According to Emma Stone’s Olive, “A is for Awesome.” “Easy A” is the funny smart movie of the year. Director Will Gluck’s fresh mashing of Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” in this Twitter Age is whimsical, genuine, and hysterical. Emma Stone is absolutely amazing. Writer Bert V. Royal’s screenplay brilliantly captures the angst and social perils of kids of this Facebook generation. Royal completes his story with touching narrative arcs and twists, and a valiant hero in Emma Stone. “Easy A” is reminiscent of “Juno” in its clever and biting dialog. Where in “Juno” no one in real life actually speaks with those razor-like smarts, “Easy A” is witty and sharp in natural speak.
Stone’s Olive is a smart ass, but never over the top. She is the straight man, self-aware of the social “no win” she finds herself imprisoned. During the staged fake tryst, Olive (Stone) locks herself with Brandon (exasperated funny Dan Byrd) in a friend’s bedroom. Brandon is gay and tormented everyday at school for just being. Olive reluctantly agrees to this public staging to recreate his reputation anew. When Olive removes her thong as part of the theatrics, Brandon freaks. Olive says, “Do you think I have a gnome down there?” Brandon defends that she is not his type. Duh. Olive surmises could it be: “I have a V, not a P.” Gluck and Royal orchestrate hysterically. Stone has natural impeccable timing. “Easy A” had won me over at this juncture.
Olive is a smart and decent high school student in Ojai, CA. She is never in trouble— in fact nearly invisible. Olive gets caught in a lie, to avoid going on a camping trip with her BFF Rhiannon (charmingly spacey Aly Michalka) and her disturbing New Age parents. Olive tells Rhi that she had a one night stand with a college freshman over the weekend—really she was comically alone at home. School Christian Crusade Leader Marianne (gloriously bitchy Amanda Bynes) overhears Olive’s restroom confession. Literally at the speed of light Tweets and texts broadcast Olive’s promiscuity. Later Marianne tells Olive she will be judged by a higher power. Olive responds, “Did I just get saved?”
“Easy A” opens with Olive’s webcast, which is genius. She confesses, “There are 2 sides to every story. This is my side—the right one.” Olive’s good intentions to resuscitate social outcasts by “fake rocking their worlds” soon make her a pariah. She is getting Auto Zone gift cards to have faux sex with boys seeking credibility. Olive’s favorite teacher Mr. Griffith (disguised aloof Thomas Hayden Church) becomes concerned when she transforms, and wears bus tiers emblazoned with the scarlet letter A. She is reading “The Scarlet Letter” in English class. Also worried is Griffith’s Guidance Counselor wife (wacky Lisa Kudrows). Olive’s parents note the red flags. Her Mom (wonderfully loopy Patricia Clarkson) remarks that she looks like a stripper– albeit “high end” according to her Dad (hysterically wise Stanley Tucci).
However, on a transactional date Olive realizes that someone crossed the whore line. Fortunately, “Lobster” Todd rescues her. Todd (gentle and strong Penn Badgley) says he dismisses the rumors about Olive. He always remembers the beautiful 7th grader, who was kind to him. Olive too has always been in love Todd, since then. This is the distinguishing charm of “Easy A”. Although Olive is in the adolescent abyss, the people that know her soul like Todd and her parents have faith in her. In a hilarious dinner scene Olive requests that her parents dismiss the rumors of Chlamydia—apparently no big deal. Even her Dad tells her vehemently and comically, “I would take a bullet for you.” Her Mom understands completely. While gazing at the stars she tells her daughter that when she too was young she slept with a lot of people—”mostly guys”.
“Easy A” poignantly captures and reminds us of the painful teen angst of fitting in, and just being allowed to be. When overweight dweeb Evan (sympathetic Jameson Moss) begs Olive to say that she had sex with him, she asks him why? Brandon says, “Just look at me.” You can see the heartbreak in Stone’s visage. While Olive is confronted by picketers, Todd tells her, “Screw all these people, Olive!” Ultimately, “Easy A” gets an “A” for its story about having the courage to take a stand, doing what is right despite what people think. Emma Stone is our hero on this journey. She is cute and has such a radiant spirit. She wins us over whether she is singing “Pocket Full of Sunshine” in the shower or seeing the suffering in her eyes when she realizes that she shattered the life of someone dear. “Easy A” is one of the best movies of the year. It’s the kind of movie that is dismissed by the Academy, when it shouldn’t. Perhaps, one day.
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