**1/2 (out of 5)
September 17, 2010
Emma Stone as OLIVE
Penn Badgley as WOODCHUCK
Amanda Bynes as MARIANNE
Dan Byrd as BRANDON
Thomas Haden Church as MR. GRIFFITH
Patricia Clarkson as ROSEMARY
Cam Gigandet as MICAH
Lisa Kudrow as MRS. GRIFFITH
Malcolm McDowell as PRINCIPAL GIBBONS
Aly Michalka as RHIANNON
Stanley Tucci as DILL
Studio: Screen Gems
Directed by: Will Gluck
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Second to “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Scarlet Letter” was the piece of literature I had to read in high school that I hated the most. I understand what it was about, but it was one of the most boring books I read in my life. To be fair, as a modern and very loose adaptation of that story, “Easy A” was much better. At least I wasn’t bored with it.
But that doesn’t mean it was a great film by any stretch of the imagination.
“Easy A” tells the story of Olive (Emma Stone), a quiet high school girl who swerves into a bad reputation. After becoming the talk of the school when her friend circulates an untrue rumor that she lost her virginity to a college-aged guy, Olive finds a certain measure of local fame. She uses this new found slutty reputation to help guys improve their social standing by pretending to have sex with them. While she becomes the center of attention and finds a new sultry look, her plans start to fall apart, hurting other people.
There are some good laughs in this film, but most of them are front-loaded. In many ways, “Easy A” reminds me of films like “Office Space” and “The Invention of Lying.” It has a pretty good set-up, and the first half of the film works. However, at the half-way point, it completely falls apart. In the case of “Easy A,” things get needlessly dark and then get preachy.
Though the preaching really gets annoying because it doesn’t know how to focus. On one hand, the film has a pretty strong anti-religious bent by making the antagonist a prayer warrior. I get annoyed at the overly evangelical people I’ve known, but this film tends to make them represent anyone into religion. Then, the movie can’t decide whether it’s presenting promiscuity as a good thing or a bad thing. Even at the end, there’s a line that basically says, “Well, you shouldn’t have sex at this age, but if you do, that’s okay too.”
There’s also a pop culture disconnect with the characters in this movie. Olive has an unusual love for the John Hughes films of the 1980s, but there’s no reason given why she’s so into them. It seems, instead, that the writer of this film has a love for John Hughes films and just gives this voice to the character. But I don’t believe that a sixteen-year-old in 2010 has really seen all these films, let alone idolize them the way she does. It’d be more logical for her to love “Dawson’s Creek” rather than “The Breakfast Club.”
The only saving grace of this film is the cast. Emma Stone holds things together by walking the perfect line between high school dork and sultry temptress. She’s cute as hell, and she proves in this movie that she doesn’t need Judd Apatow dudes or a zombie apocalypse to carry a film.
Likewise, there are some decent performances by the rest of the cast, including Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson and Aly Michalka’s breasts.
By the end of “Easy A,” it wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t nearly as good as even the mediocre films of John Hughes.