3.5 stars out of 5
Welcome to the Emma Stone Age ladies and gents, because Easy A will likely propel her to the pop culture stratosphere faster than Ellen Page can say “Juno.” Akin to that chapter from Page’s book, Easy A is ripe for comparisons with Diablo Cody’s debut.
Both films possess sterling leading ladies playing whip smart teens with acerbic aplomb. Both films skewer the arbitrary social hierarchy of high school and hypocritical perceptions of teenage sex with scathing accuracy.
The big difference is that Easy A is much sharper and features less hipster-pandering, which is a good thing. Like the prodigious lovechild of Election and Mean Girls, this film operates on a much quicker RPM than your usual teen comedies.
Stone shines as Olive Penderghast, a raspy-voiced, red-haired Ojai, California teen with enough subversive wit and sprightly sass to match both Gilmore Girls.
Right from a wonderfully edited early scene, portraying Olive’s weekend alone at home where she reluctantly falls victim to the insufferable earworm that is Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’, Stone has already charmed the socks off the audience.
One day Olive tells a seemingly harmless fib to her well-endowed, blabbermouth of a best-friend (Aly Michalka) about a phony sexual experience in a public bathroom only to be overheard by the school’s religious freak (Amanda Bynes) occupying an adjacent cubicle.
Her life as the nerdy, never-seen wallflower is quickly upended as exaggerated tales of her salacious exploits spread like wildfire. The surprising thing is that instead of being appalled by being branded the campus slut, the attention starved Olive actually revels in her notoriety.
She then nobly uses her nitro-glycerine reputation to help her downtrodden peers. First she agrees to help a frequently bullied gay classmate (Dan Byrd) to appear straight by pretending to lose his virginity to her at a party.
Soon she’s regularly exchanging fake sexual favours for gift vouchers from geeks. The losers get an aura of cool after claiming to bed the pretty redhead and Olive gets to maintain her faux-amorous infamy.
At first Olive wears the harlot badge with pride – literally. She embroiders a bold, cerise letter A onto her increasingly provocative wardrobe, in reference to Hester Prynne’s plight as an ostracized adulterer in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. After a while though, the judgmental clawing of the rumour mill begins to hurt.
Easy A deals with a variety of prickly issues (homosexuality, social classes, and righteously indignant puritans) but the film’s edgiest thorn is the moral ambiguity of Olive’s white lies. When perception is nine-tenths of reality, can you claim ethical purity even when your prostitution is counterfeit?
Writer Bert V Royal’s first feature script is intelligent, funny and brims with rapid-fire dialogue that’s heavy on the wordplay (She: “C’est la vie” He: “La vie”) and light on the cheese. Will Gluck’s direction is similarly energetic and impeccable.
However its flaws, while few and easily ignorable, is also plainly evident. Easy A suffers, most glaringly, from believability issues. While the first hour or so is zippy enough to gloss over that, the plot machinations in the film’s final third strains credulity.
Every character except for Olive is poorly fleshed-out, which is disappointing because while this movie likes to poke fun at teen movie clichés, a few of its characters happen to fall into caricature territory themselves.
Still, Easy A is brainy fun that gets most of its notes right - and what it does right, it does with crackling virtuosity.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini is 24-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for MetroWize Asia.
Hidzir was the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.