Monday, September 20, 2010

Movie Review: Easy A

Easy A *** 1/2
Directed by:
Will Gluck.
Written By: Bert V. Royal.
Starring: Emma Stone (Olive), Penn Badgley (Woodchuck Todd), Amanda Bynes (Marianne), Dan Byrd (Brandon), Thomas Haden Church (Mr. Griffith), Patricia Clarkson (Rosemary), Stanley Tucci (Dill), Cam Gigandet (Micah), Lisa Kudrow (Mrs. Griffith), Malcolm McDowell (Principal Gibbons), Alyson Michalka (Rhiannon), Fred Armisen (Pastor).

There are some movies that are elevated by one terrific performance, and Easy A is certainly one of those movies. This could have been just another teen movie - a Juno-lite, too satisfied with its own cleverness and intelligence. But Emma Stone makes the movie feel much more real that it should - she grounds the film in her own reality and carries the film in each and every scene. Yes, she is supported by a great cast - particularly Thomas Haden Church as one of her teacher and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents who threaten to steal every scene they are in - but this is Stone’s movie from beginning to end. She had already proven that she is one of the best young comedic actresses around right now with her great work in Superbad, Zombieland and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (where she was the only bright spot in a horrific movie). Here she proves that she is a movie star in the making.

The movie stars Stone as Olive, a high school senior who is pretty much invisible to her classmates. But then she tells one lie to her best friend (Alyson Michalka) that is overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes). The lie involves Olive losing her virginity to a college student, and soon rumors start flying about Olive all over the school. Her friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) overhears them, and wants Olive to do him a favor - he is constantly being picked on for being gay - and thinks that if everyone thinks that he had sex with Olive that people will leave him alone. So at a party, they fake it, and it saves Brandon - but makes Olive into the school slut. Marianne, head of a group of Christian students really starts picking on Olive, who has become the school slut. Instead of running from this label, she embraces it, and starts helping other losers “lose their virginity” to her as well. Things eventually get far too out of control.

There are many ways in which this movie could have gone horribly wrong - but it wisely sidesteps them all. The screenplay by Bert V. Royal is witty and hilarious, giving Stone many memorable one liners, and helping to create some memorable supporting characters. Thomas Haden Church is great as the “cool” teacher, and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson have tremendous chemistry as Olive’s parents, obviously still madly in love after all these years. Yes, the overly moral Christians is something that has been done a few too many times in recent movies (best was in the movie Saved a few years ago), but Amanda Bynes carries off her role easily. The movie knows it is indebted to the teen movies of the 1980s, but instead of running from this, it embraces it - even going so far as to include clips from those movies. Director Will Gluck, who did the absolutely horrible, and mildly offensive Fired Up last year, keeps things moving along nicely, and is smart enough to simply get out of the way. The screenplay and acting is strong enough that it would be hard to screw up.

But the movie belongs to Emma Stone. Not quite the typical Hollywood starlet, Stone is still a beauty, has a sexy, slightly husky voice, and tremendous comic timing. If Stone does not completely sell this role, then the entire movie could have become a horrible film - and film with a lot of one liners in need to someone to deliver them. But Stone gives a star making performance as Olive - it is impossible to not fall for her, not root for her in the movie, and not to find her absolutely hilarious. There are so many teen comedies that come out every year, and most of them seem to come off an assembly line that weeds out any originality or anything of any real interest. But Easy A is different. Because of Stone, Easy A becomes one of the year’s best comedies. I look forward to seeing Stone doing even better work in her career. Trust me, she will be a huge star if she wants to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment