Make way, there’s a new princess of comedy and her name is Emma Stone. Who knows what it is about young redheaded actresses and high school—a la Molly Ringwald and pre-druggie Lindsay Lohan—but the formula seems to work. As Stone’s ingénue debut, Easy A easily shines thanks to its smart writing and charismatic cast.
Based loosely off Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterpiece novel, The Scarlet Letter, Easy A follows Olive Penderghast (Stone), a good-natured yet dateless high-schooler who, while blowing off her best friend’s incessant inquiries about her virginity, winds up gaining a reputation as the school skank. Although Olive protests that the rumors are false, a few loser high school boys beg Olive to fake it so they won’t get bullied anymore.
Stone absolutely nails her first starring role, coming off as smart, mature and wise beyond her 21 years. She’s believable in every aspect of her character, whether it’s her witty one-liners or during a fantastic opening sequence featuring a musical card that plays “Pocketful of Sunshine.” She’s goofy when she needs to be while still revealing pain and sorrow during the climatic breaking point.
However, give the girl a snaggle-tooth or something because Olive seems to have the best fashion sense of any self-proclaimed outcast, ever. Director Will Gluck could’ve made her look more drab or dorky rather than relying solely on Olive’s narration of this fact. This is the foundation of Olive’s character, after all, but she doesn’t look the part.
Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson play Olive’s quirky parents and they command the screen in their supporting roles. You immediately understand where Olive gets her sense of humor. However, as lovable and open-minded as her parents are, they drop the ball on actual parenting. Most parents would probably stop their high school daughter from attending school in lingerie with a big red “A” emblazoned on it or all to see, but not the Penderghasts.
And beware to all real-life parents, this PG-13 movie flexes its boundaries and lets these high school kids unleash their potty mouths. Although the rating may not warrant the amount of profanity used, there’s no denying writer Bert V. Royal’s dedication to keeping the script fresh, quick and real.
As for Easy A’s modern twist on the rumor mill, the movie sheds some light on what it’s like going to school in the age of cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. It’s frightening to watch as Olive barely gets a word out of her mouth before the camera bobs and weaves throughout the school campus showing students sharing her so-called sexual escapades to each other from their phones only to return to a stricken Olive. Clearly, the telephone game has advanced from simple whispers to Tweets and texts. The lesson here: Keep your shit to yourself.
Overall, Easy A is an easy and enjoyable watch. With a quick dialogue, entertaining characters and a leading lady worth the price of admission, this high school movie will appeal to teens and adults alike. It may not achieve the longevity of John Hughes’ work—no matter how many times it borrows from him—but it’s certainly reminiscent of those classics. And with Lohan spiraling more and more out of control, we’d like to formally ask Stone not to screw up—because we really, really like her.
Easy A (PG-13) ★★★★☆