Monday, September 20, 2010

Easy A (2010)

I've made it no secret here that Juno is one of my all-time personal favorite movies (groan if you must). And for a long time, the film has stood as one of the best in a sadly lacking genre: smart female-driven teen comedy. For the most part, teen comedies are all about the boys who only think with their penises, with the lesson of fool around as much as you want, just make sure you stay mostly faithfully to the girl you choose. As for the girls, its OMG I've got to compete with you to land the hot guy. All of this happens through a unlikely sequence of pratfalls that never, ever happen in high school, but for some reason Hollywood thinks they do. But then there are films like Juno that capture a character who is more reality-based than those in the former movies, one that you feel is a real teen going through a real problem.
Easy A is not Juno, but rather Juno-lite. And that's not at all a bad thing. Even though the story veers into the ridiculous - Olive (Emma Stone) pretends to have lost her virginity, and then helps guys pretend to lose theirs (eventually for money) - the film never loses its heart or its wicked intelligence. This isn't for the American Pie crowd looking for boobs and beer. Playing off both Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and John Hughes movies, the film rewards those with a knowledge of these things (I instantly recalled my 11th grade English class, in which we not only read The Scarlet Letter but compared the original movie to the "loosely adapted" Demi Moore version).
Three things help Easy A succeed as a film. The first is the smart script from newcomer Bert V. Royal, which plays with the cliches of teen comedies without completely succumbing to them. If Royal can keep this sort of thing up, he's got a bright future ahead of him. The second is the incredible supporting cast: Amanda Bynes and Aly Michalka as Olive's frenemies, Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as her parents, Thomas Haden Church as her favorite teacher, Lisa Kudrow as her guidance counselor, and Penn Badgley as her crush. They're all fearlessly funny, especially Clarkson and Tucci, who have such great rapport and chemistry that I would love for them to adopt me. They're both such fantastic supporting players and should, honestly, be in every movie.
The third is the strength of Emma Stone's breakthrough performance. She stole scenes in Superbad and did well in Zombieland, so it was only a matter of time before she got to carry a movie on her own. And carry it she does. Her Olive is whip-smart and charming, and Stone gives every twist and turn her character endures all she's got. She's funny, heartbreaking, and impossible not to root for. She tosses off one-liners with incredible ease, and uses that sense of humor as her shield when things start to get out of hand. The film is structured to live or die by her performance, and thanks to her it not only lives but thrives. The only part of her fantastic performance that isn't believable is that a girl that looks like her is completely anonymous in high school. Puh-lease.
Easy A is an excellent film to start the fall, as school resumes and the hot summer days begin to fade. Its the kind of comedy that should be made far more often.


Simon said...

That she's in high school at all is the most unbelievable thing. She looks 28.

One thing that I loved, that really made me believe that the writer had some connect with high school, was this one throwaway line, about that girl Rhianna, "for one, I couldn't really stand spending a whole weekend with her", or something like that. I mean, I have friends in school, my sister does, but we both kind of agree with would lose out minds spending an extended period of time with them. I just loved that line.

Jason H. said...

I got that feeling too. A lot of the dialogue was so natural, I mean, I seriously could think of people I know who are like that too. Though one of my favorite lines was from Olive's dad: "When a man and a woman love each other very much, like your mother and I used to.." It was such a great throwaway line reading from Stanley Tucci.

Anne said...

I honestly was not going to see this movie. It seemed so clich├ęd, that I felt like I had already seen it a thousand times. Yet, thanks to you my critical angel, I feel that I could spend money on this.
Thank you again and again and again for everything you do!!!

Jason H. said...

That's very flattering, thank you :)

Kotsu said...

I saw this with you :D