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Easy A

A teen comedy directed by Gluck and starring Emma Stone.

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She's Not a Trollop, She Just Plays One in School

  • Oct 10, 2010
It's easy to like a character, but it isn't often you come across one that you would want to actually be friends with, or maybe even wish you could be like. For me, such a character is Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), a high-school student from Ojai, California. True, she may only be a fictional character, but she's also the embodiment of personality - smart, witty, and affable, yet not so perfect or above it all that she fails to be human. Despite these magnetic qualities, she isn't noticed much by her peers, and she's all but upstaged by her best friend (Aly Michalka), who makes it a point to believe only what she wants to believe instead of actually listening to the truth. Things drastically change for Olive when she gains an infamous reputation as the school floozy, something she didn't start but certainly chose to perpetuate.

Her story is told in "Easy A," which is not only one of the funniest teen comedies of recent memory, but is also one of the most intelligent. Rather than go for obvious lowbrow sex and booze toilet humor, director Will Gluck and writer Bert V. Royal show the temerity to engage the audience with clever dialogue, strong characters, and a plot we can actually care about. It doesn't play down to the audience. If we laugh, it's not because of a vulgar throwaway gag but because of genuinely funny scenarios, many of which are relatable to varying degrees. Perhaps the film is founded on an extraordinary premise, but in my mind, it's a perfectly plausible premise, and the fact that the filmmakers could keep the story grounded while making it entertaining is quite an amazing achievement.

Olive's infamy begins when she lies about having lost her virginity over the weekend to a college student she made up. The lie is overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes), a judgmental and pious Little Miss Christian, who proceeds to tell everyone she knows about Olive's indiscretion. Rumors quickly spread. Other students begin to take notice of her, and although she never asked for her newfound reputation, she finds she's appreciating the attention. She's then approached by her gay friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd), who's so tired of being harassed by homophobic bullies that he begs her to pretend to have sex with him. Knowing that no one would believe her if she simply told people about it, Olive drags Brandon to a classmate's party, where they lock themselves in a bedroom and make all the necessary noises. Everyone is fooled.

This includes Marianne and her circle of Christian friends, one of whom boldly suggests that Olive follow the lead of Hester Prynne in "The Scarlett Letter" and mark herself. Not content with doing things half-heartedly, Olive arrives at school the next day wearing a bustier with a red A affixed to the right breast. In due time, she's approached by other boys who want Olive to do for them what she did for Brandon; she agrees to help them all, although she's well aware that the situation is getting out of hand. It's bad enough that they're using her to inflate their egos. Why must they also compensate her with gift certificates and coupons to affordable stores like The Home Depot and Bed Bath and Beyond?

The ads have prepared us to view Olive as a cliché - a wisecracking teen who never shows her emotions and flaunts her superior intellect in the form of biting sarcasm and dry wit. But we end up seeing nothing of the sort. Olive is a young woman of considerable depth, jokey on the outside but within harboring needs, hopes, and deep insecurities. They emerge during scenes with the school mascot, Woodchuck Todd (Penn Badgley), the one guy who has known Olive most of her life and sees the person behind the reputation. Through him, she comes to believe that regaining her self-respect depends on tracking down each of the boys she helped and coercing them into telling the truth. This proves far more difficult than she expected. It's just as well; the root of "self-respect" is "self," which is to say no one other than her can turn the situation around.

Other characters, such as Olive's loveably liberal parents (Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) and her perpetually flustered school principal (Malcolm McDowell), add color to the story, even if they are a bit less three-dimensional and serve mostly as comedy relief. The English teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Hayden Church), is not only as witty and charming as Olive but is also remarkably perceptive; the same cannot be said about Mr. Griffith's estranged wife (Lisa Kudrow), which is ironic since she's the school's guidance counselor. I don't want to reveal too much about this couple. Let it suffice to say that Olive's actions have consequences that extend beyond the limits of the student body.

The film is told as a retrospective, Olive opening the film with a webcam confessional that continuously weaves in and out of the story proper. This is far from an original narrative technique, but Stone's performance and Royal's dialogue elevates it to new heights. Right at the start, we're drawn to this character, and we want to stay near her even after the story has come to an end. Not too many roles have this kind of power. Not too many teen comedies are this well written. "Easy A" is a sweet, sassy, ingenious little movie, one that I hope will not be forgotten ten years from now.

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January 05, 2012
Great review
January 02, 2011
There it is! I was looking for this review. I will see this soon hopefully. Thanks, Chris!
More Easy A reviews
review by . April 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Easy A is a 90's movie. More specifically, it's a 90's teen flick in every possible respect. If it had been released in its proper time frame, it would have tacked itself onto a 1999 release, getting in there with the great wave of corporate teen idols who kept sneaking into the last minute 90's pop culture scene. It would have starred one of the momentary flash-pan movie stars who were already known from either TV or horror movies - possibly Neve Campbell or Sarah Michelle Gellar. It features many …
review by . December 24, 2010
Like I said in my review of Zombieland, Emma Stone is one of the big rising stars on screen today, and Easy A was made as her leading star turn. It definitely worked, because she did great and therefore, the movie was great. She was backed by a great story and a great supporting cast (especially Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents). Movies like this, Juno, and Mean Girls have been described as the John Hughes movies of our generation, and for good reason, because they reach the same …
review by . January 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****     "Easy A" is one of the best teen comedies in years. It is less crude and more thoughtful than the premise suggests, and I found myself respecting it throughout. What makes it work is the fact that it has a good sense of humor, a pretty good cast, and charming sense of supreme, human decency. The film has the kind of charm that I wish every comedy had, and Emma Stone as the film's protagonist, is absolutely incredible as far as charming leads go. Sure, the …
review by . November 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
In the same vain of Clueless and 10 Things I Hate About You comes the retelling of the classic tale The Scarlet Letter.       Emma Stone stars as Olive, the high school girl who feels unrecognizable in the high school world. One lie begets another and soon she is the center of high school gossip. The morally upright condemn the girl to hell so as an act of rebellion she marks herself with the letter A. Seriously they don't even try and hide the inspiration; I would hope …
review by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      EASY A      This film turned out to be much better than I had expected to be honest, I knew it would be good but it was better than I thought. Still to be honest I was not really looking to see this that bad, until my girl got it and had me watch it with her. Of course it was along the lines of these new John Hughes style flicks but it was good. I don't think it turned out as classic as Hughes's films but it was a nice homage to the man's …
review by . March 14, 2011
   Back in the day I used to love watching teen comedy films.  I loved the cheesey 90s teen comedies with Freddy Prince, Julia Styles and Rachel Lee Cook with their random mid-story group dance routines that had everyone and their mothers dancing.  But my go-to films are still the classic John Hughes brat pack films.  They make you laugh, they make you cry and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.    Then the 21st century came and we lost the soul of the teen comedy …
review by . September 25, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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EASY A   Written by Bert V. Royal   Directed by Will Gluck   Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes and Thomas Haden Church      Olive: I used to be invisible.  If Google Earth were a guy, he couldn’t find me if I were a ten-storey building.      What Ojai, California, high school student, Olive Penderghast, has to go through in director, Will Gluck’s EASY A to get her “A” cannot be described …
review by . November 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      This is a story about the clicheic "I need to be awesome to be liked" dogma which has spread in almost any teenager since ever. Why we need that to be liked? Why we need to do outrageous or non-conventional things in order for the average Joe to like us? Is it a right thing or a bad thing? Well, I guess the answer for that is in anyone's personal beliefs and since we're not debaters here we're not gonna comment on the subject.      …
Quick Tip by . January 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
While Emma Stone was delightfully quirky and adorable, I just didn't think that this film had the charm or the intelligence that it was trying so hard to achieve. There have been quite a few great teen comedies in the past 5 years and some of them will go down in film history as classics alongside John Hughes' films of the '80s. This film wants to be of the same quality as those films... so badly that that the story is littered with references to those films, but what hurts it is that …
Quick Tip by . December 31, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I would say it is worth a rental at least especially if you are into this type of film. A fun cast mixed with a great script made for a good film, well worth the time.
About the reviewer
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #2
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … more
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Easy A
is an ensemble 2010 romantic comedy film written by Bert V. Royal and directed by Will Gluck. Partially inspired by the novel The Scarlet Letter, the film was shot at Screen Gems studios and in Ojai, California. Screen Gems distributed with a release on September 17, 2010. 

Easy Ais a frothy, fizzy, andfunnyromantic comedy for teens--and adults will love it too. Not sinceCluelesshas a high-school heroine been able to delight both audiences, andEasy A's Olive (the sparkling Emma Stone) is a stellar young star. ButEasy Abenefits from a great script by writer Bert V. Royal and assured direction by TV veteran Will Gluck. Olive is a smart girl happy to stay in the shadows of high school, until her good friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd), who's gay, begs her to pretend to have sex with him so the rest of the school will stop picking on him. She obliges, but soon she picks up not one but two reputations--as the girl who sleeps around, and, on the down-low, as the girl who'llpretendto sleep with a guy so he won't be branded a virgin. SoonEasy A's complications pile up higher than the entrance of Olive's high school, and her two story lines, neither of which reflects the real Olive, take on lives of their own. There are backlashes and blacklists and repercussions galore. "I always thoughtpretendingto lose my virginity would feel a little more special," muses Olive. "Judy Blume should have prepared me for that." Stone is accompanied by ...
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Director: Will Gluck
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: September 17, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Bert V. Royal
Runtime: 92 minutes
Studio: Olive Bridge Entertainment, Sony Pictures
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