Friday, September 17, 2010

Easy A, or The Best John Hughes Movie John Hughes Never Made

Director: Will Gluck (Fired Up)
Script: Bert V. Royal
Starring: Emma Stone (Zombieland), Patricia Clarkson (Shutter Island), Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones), Thomas Hayden Church (Spider-Man 3), Lisa Kudrow (Friends), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Amanda Bynes (Hairspray), Malcolm McDowell (Halloween), Alyson Michalka (Phil of the Future), Dan Byrd (Heroes) and Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live)
Release Date: Friday, September 17th, 2010
Rating: Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material.

I’m a jerk. I saw Easy A two weeks ago at an advanced screening and am only writing the review on the day of. I thought it came out next week. I apologize, faithful reader. On the bright side, the movie is incredible.

The story is pretty simple. A nice, sweet, well-behaved high school nobody, in an effort to help a friend, ends up becoming the school’s biggest whore, except for the fact that everything said about her isn’t true. What starts small quickly snowballs and takes the audience on a roller coaster ride.

Unlike other recent teen movies, specifically Juno, Easy A has a much easier time making teenage characters sound like teenagers and not like weird alien creatures using a language all but imperceptible. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Juno, but for God’s sake Diablo Cody, NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT! The dialogue is fast, witty, and believable, far and away one of the most charming parts in a very charming movie. It’s rife with self-aware narration, a very apparent love of the classic teen movies of the 80’s, and pop culture references that aren’t just for pop culture references sake.

The casting is also fantastic. Emma Stone plays the main character, Olive. Stone is one of my favorite new actresses, so a movie that consists of her making me laugh and dressing like a trollop is destined to endear itself to me. However, Thomas Hayden Church, who plays her favorite teacher, steals the show. Nearly every line out of his mouth made me laugh, especially when he sees Olive in one of her sluttier ensembles. He stares at her blankly for several seconds, says, “Don’t forget: tomorrow’s Earth Day,” then walks away. Her parents, played by Clarkson and Tucci, are equally as amusing. They seem to take nothing seriously and, at least for me, it’s a refreshing change of pace. Malcolm McDowell, who plays the principal, is always a welcome addition to the cast but did feel underutilized. Amanda Bynes (in her final role before retiring) plays the antagonistic Christian girl who, through the power of God, tries to destroy Olive. She plays one of those Christians that thinks if God wanted her boyfriend to finally graduate high school (he’s been there for years), then He would give him the answers. You know, the worst kind of Christian. Michalka plays Olive’s best friend, a slightly vapid, slightly envious girl who is quick to shun Olive after she starts having fake flings. Her later developments felt abrupt, and her romantic interest was only in a couple scenes, resulting in me being slightly confused when he appears for the second time nearly an hour after his first appearance. Then, there’s Olive’s romantic interest, Woodchuck Todd (Badgley). He’s attractive, cool, and the school mascot. What’s not to love? The fact that it takes nearly an entire movie for them to realize their obvious romantic chemistry. Dan Byrd plays Brandon, the gay friend who sets the main plot into motion, and I was pleased at his lack of FAAAAAAAAAABULOUS that so many homosexual characters seem to come equipped with. Lisa Kudrow plays the school guidance counselor and Church’s wife. I felt that she could have, and should have, been introduced much earlier in the movie. Regardless, she played an instrumental role in the tail end of the film. Finally, a small part by the hilarious Fred Armisen is the cherry on a well-casted cake.

I also enjoyed the fact that my usually spot-on predictions were off on this movie. Far too often do I peg a movie from the get-go. I can’t really go into detail with out major spoilers, but I zigged and the movie zagged. Bravo!

The small flaws mentioned above don’t take much away from what is an excellent movie and the most refreshing teen movie in ages. All in all, Easy A is simply fantastic. Brilliant dialogue, twists and turns, and excellent performances left me absolutely delighted. I just wish I got around to writing this a little earlier. Next time I get to see an advanced screening, expect the review much sooner. That’s my Bewildering Tales of Fiction promise to you, dear reader.

In conclusion, go see this movie. Devil was good, but Easy A is great. Alpha and Omega doesn’t deserve your money and Easy A has far less annoying Boston accents than The Town. Easy A deserves more than cult classic status, and if screenwriter Bert V. Royal has his way, there’s the possibility of two more movies set in the same high school. Easy A could well usher in a Renaissance of teen movies and it would be a shame to be snuffed out because Ben Affleck and a couple of poorly-animated wolf cubs seem more appealing.

Score: 9/10.

Fun Fact: Emma Stone dropped out of Sucker Punch to make Easy A. Sigh. I guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

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