Movie Title: Easy A
Movie Release Date: September 17, 2010
Primary Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow
Genres: Comedy, Romance, Indie
Plot Summary (via IMDB): “A clean-cut high school student relies on the school’s rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.”
Review: I had some high hopes for this movie, a modern retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, this time in high school. I wanted to see it when it was out in theaters, but unfortunately work, and real life, got in my way. No matter though, it went on my list of movies to see when released on DVD. After last week’s sobfest of a movie, The Time Traveler’s Wife, I needed a good pick-me-up. From everything I had heard Easy A promised to have my laughing my butt off. I enjoyed Emma Stone in Superbad (though her part was short), and she had me laughing all through Zombieland. This was to be her first feature role, so of course it it was going to be awesome. Right?
Olive (Emma Stone) is a nobody. She is an attractive, good student, who dresses conservatively, and keeps to herself. Then one day, everything changes. Not wanting to go on a camping trip with her best friend, Rhiannon, and Rhiannon’s crazy parents (California hippies who eat patchouli brownies and smoke pot), Olive says that she has a date, with some college dude. Who? Rhiannon doesn’t know him, that’s who. We know the story, she doesn’t really have a date. Instead she stays at home singing Pocket Full of Sunshine to her dog, over and over (I still have this song stuck in my head now). Cue to the next Monday at school, Rhiannon asks how her weekend, and of course her date, went. Olive, not wanting to hurt her friend’s feelings, lies. “It was great!” Next thing you know Rhiannon is accusing Olive of losing her virginity (finally) and commending her for it. Oh, but wait, of course, someone overhears them. And of course its the leader of the devout Christian group at school, Marianne (Amanda Bynes). And of course, as well all know from high school, the “news” spreads rapidly, and soon Olive is branded the class slut. Oh, but wait, the irony doesn’t end there, Olive is reading The Scarlet Letter in her English class. Of course.
In a whirlwind of events Olive decides to embrace her new persona, despite it being a giant lie. She isn’t really a slut, but at least now she is getting noticed. And isn’t that what we all want in high school? To be noticed? In some series of events that make no sense soon Olive becomes the person to go to when guys want to improve their image. For a Best Buy card, or a gift certificate to Bed, Bath and Beyond, Olive will say that she engaged in naughty activities with you, ranging from a simple butt grab, to straight up sex, thus promoting your social standing. Events happen, Olive is the class harlot, she wears corset shirts with As on them, the Christian group outrages, Olive sees that lying about being a slut is as bad as being a slut, and stuff goes down. And oh yes, there is chlamydia. So did I laugh?
I want to say yes, I really do, but that would be a lie. There were moments when I chuckled, of course, but they were few. I spent most of the movie waiting. Waiting for that one zinger that would have me in stitches. It never came. The jokes felt pressed and Emma’s delivery was off. I want to blame the writers, because Emma has proven that she can be funny, but perhaps she simply wasn’t ready to carry a movie by herself. The funniest moments in the movie were actually courtesy of the over-the-top ridiculousness of the crazy Christian Marianne, played by the lovely Amanda Bynes (at moments she actually reminded me of Mandy Moore from the movie Saved, which is a fantastic movie). Additional funny moments came from the always amusing Lisa Kudrow (though I will always see her as Phoebe Buffay), and the dry, yet witty, Thomas Haden Church. Also, I did enjoy looking at the always adorable Penn Badgley (of my beloved Gossip Girl), but even that was not enough to save the movie, and that end I was left feeling unfulfilled. The last 45 minutes of the movie, were definitely better than the first 45 (which felt like they moved at a crawl, and almost resulted in my boyfriend bailing on me), but why should I have to slough through 45 minutes of awkwardness, for 45 minutes of slightly above average comedy?
Overall I give this movie a C+ (bordering on a B-). I may be going against the public here (it is rated at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes), but Easy A is not a movie I would watch again. While I am glad I did get to view it at least once, it will not join the ranks of high school comedies that I watch over and over (which currently includes Clueless and Superbad). It has some one-liners that will make you chuckle, and the cast, overall, is quite charming, but it simply falls a bit short and flat of where it should be. Emma Stone, it was a decent starting point, but I know you have much better in you, so keep at it.