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Easy A

A teen comedy directed by Gluck and starring Emma Stone.

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90's Teen Movie

  • Apr 19, 2012
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 of the same staples, too: High, upbeat, current alternative soundtrack, rapid-fire dialogue, cool parents, small-town or suburban setting, lily-white cast complete with token black, references and deferral to John Hughes, and Easy A even shares much of the same inspiration that was permeating the movies when the 90's rolled into the twilight: At the time, it seemed like half of the movies in theaters were teen movies created by rewriting some classic piece of literature. They got at Pygmalion (She's All That), Dangerous Liaisons (Cruel Intentions), The Taming of the Shrew (10 Things I Hate About You), and Othello (O). Easy A is a clear-cut re-tooling of The Scarlet Letter.

Easy A doesn't even try to hide its source material - it makes references to it every chance it gets. The main character, Olive, even adopts the mindset of Nathaniel Hawthorne's main character and pins a scarlet letter to her shoulder.

Olive is not a popular girl. As she says in the beginning, Google couldn't find her if she was a ten-story building. But she does have a good friend in Rihannon, an overly enthusiastic bestie who is prone to jumping to conclusions which she never, ever lets go of no matter how often they're denied. One weekend, Olive refuses to go hang out with Rihannon, mostly because she would have to spend it with Rih's weird parents as well, and she has no desire to do that because they're weird even by California standards. So she stays home, but opts to tell her best friend that she's going out with a sexy dude named George fro the local community college! The following Monday, Olive is mum about the details of the date, so Rih makes the assumption that they had sex and doesn't let it go, and so Olive feels forced to make a story up.

Olive tells the story in the school bathroom, where it's heard by Maryann, who is the Mandy Moore character from Saved as played by Amanda Bynes. She's a religious fanatic who's watched a bit too much of The 700 Club, and takes it upon herself to save poor Olive's soul... By spreading the world that Olive is the school's easy girl. The rumor takes on a life of its own, and to improve her social standing, Olive actively encourages it. The rumors take on lives of their own, and Olive begins helping friends by telling the school she slept with them, and it comes to a point where she starts taking gift certificates from people who also want her to say she slept with them. More lies get told, scandals are uncovered, adults find out what's going on and start making assumptions of their own without listening to anyone but their inner morality judges... It's a late 90's teen movie! What else can I say?

As the driving device of a 90's teen movie, the plot works just fine and the movie itself is actually quite clever. But I wasn't feeling the reactions or outrage here - I knew a handful of girls in my high school who actually were what Olive is pretending to be, so I don't see a whole lot of students batting an eye to it. This isn't Nathaniel Hawthorne's day anymore. We live in an age where multiple schoolgirl pregnancies don't bat eyelids, and so in making Easy A relatable, a few people had to try harder. The great absurdity about a lot of this is that Olive ends up making a lot of apologies in the end. She even apologizes to her ditzy bestie Rihannon, for no reason I can see because Rihannon was the one who got Olive into the whole mess in the first place.

I keep wondering who I angered to not end up born into such a permissive household or school district. This is one of those movies in which the teenagers are entrusted with everything but the American nuclear stockade. I don't know how things are done in well-off suburban households, but there's one of those giant parties in this movie, and the school district allows Emma to pop out of a school display wearing some very skimpy clothing. My parents would have killed me for inviting friends over to our apartment at all, and my school administrators actually shut down the students' independently planned prom after-party when they learned that alcohol was going to be there.

Despite the deluge of critical acclaim, watching Easy A, I couldn't help but get the feeling that I'd seen it all before. As I keep saying, Easy A is a 90's teen flick right to the very core of its being, and it's very easy to imagine Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Mila Kunis, or any number of other WB stars landing in the lead role were they not either pushing or past 30 nowadays. The lead in this movie is played by the eternally delightful Emma Stone (at 23, she can still get away with it), and Maryanne is played by Amanda Bynes, a onetime Nickelodeon staple. Stone is a gifted comedic actress, and her performance does a lot to redeem Easy A from a leftover been-there-done-that syndrome. Stone has the chops to steal this entire movie, and that's what she does.

The writing is very clever, and it helps the movie out at least as much as Stone's performance. But it's also one of those cases where the writer - Bert Royal in this case - seems to be trying too hard to come off as cool, hip, down, with it, or whatever other term is synonymous for current. Again, I point to the permissiveness of virtually every parent in this thing. The only people who aren't seen as cool are the religious fanatics Maryanne is leading.

For all my problems with the lack of originality in Easy A, I liked it quite a bit. Clever writing and Emma Stone are enough to rescue Bert Royal and director Will Gluck, but it will be a big help if they come up with their own source material and not write another movie immediately after watching a Freddie Prinze Jr. marathon. I don't think they can keep surviving in Hollywood if they keep churning this movie out over and over again.

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April 26, 2012
I saw parts of this film, been trying to finish the whole thing but never can do it....LOL
April 27, 2012
You should probably stop just flipping it on in the middle, or whatever it is!
April 28, 2012
Thank you for the well-balanced recommendation. Well done.
April 29, 2012
That's what I'm here for!
More Easy A reviews
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 . October 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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
Nicholas Croston ()
Ranked #26
Hi! I'm here in part to plug my writing and let everyone know that I'm trying to take my work commercial.      Now, what about me? Well, obviously I like to write. I'm … 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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