As much a love letter to the seminal teen flicks of the 1980s as it is a smart, sassy, self-contained slice of cinematic pleasure, Easy A may not quite get up to the high standard of the fantastic Mean Girls but it certainly comes close.
Emma Stone makes for an appealing lead as Olive Penderghast, a girl who gets through high school with no bother and nobody, bar her best friend and one fantastic teacher, really noticing her at all. That all quickly changes when she has to make an excuse for missing some quality time with her friend, creates an imaginary boyfriend and is then questioned about whether or not she slept with him. The rumour mill goes into overdrive and not only do people start noticing Olive but they also start to notice just HOW she got noticed (if you know what I mean). Olive becomes very popular thanks to this new perceived permissiveness and starts to share her imaginary favours with people who ask her nicely, and offer some kind of renumeration.
There’s no doubt here that this is Emma Stone’s film, she’s in almost every scene, gets plenty of great lines and is someone you get to sympathise with, even as the situation she inadvertently creates gets worse and worse. Thankfully, the supporting cast are equally appealing. Standouts include Thomas Haden Church as the kind of teacher we’d all have loved to have at school, Lisa Kudrow as a guidance counsellor, Amanda Bynes as a majorly critical do-gooder and Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson playing Olive’s parents, smart and funny and with enough faith in their daughter to know that she’ll fix whatever mess she gets into.
Director Will Gluck, and writer Bert V. Royal, loads the movie with references, obvious and not-so-obvious, and keeps things moving along briskly enough. There are a few more serious moments en route but, generally, the film keeps things lighthearted and upbeat. Let’s face it, the initial bit of untrue gossip that is spread around the school is something that, in a movie with a very different tone, could cause a lot of pain and unhappiness for a schoolgirl. Olive takes everything in her stride and turns it all to her advantage – she’s really a positive person and that saturates every scene.
This may not be as dark as Heathers, as hip and funny as Clueless or as sharp as Mean Girls but it’s one of the few modern teen movies that belongs in that category and is well worth seeing, especially if you grew up with the many other teen movies referenced throughout.
DIRECTOR: WILL GLUCK
STARS: EMMA STONE, PENN BADGLEY, AMANDA BYNES, DAN BYRD, THOMAS HADEN CHURCH, STANLEY TUCCI, PATRICIA CLARKSON
RUNTIME: 92 MINS APPROX