Monday, January 3, 2011

Movie Review: Easy A

Upon first inspection of Easy A’s marketing* my first immediate thought was that it was another movie that followed the blah of high school. I mean, we’ve all experienced it, there are countless movies, and it’s a formula that has become a has-been over the years. However, Easy A, whilst formulaic in parts comes out a winner.

Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a nice girl. She’s smart, avoiding a camping trip with that lead hipster cheerleading girl from Hellcats, however quickly cooking up a lie to cover for the fact that she doesn’t want to spend time with the girl from Hellcats. From here, the lie expands quickly through student channels and Olive, the nice girl that she is, makes the decision to capitalise on the hype rather than flat out deny it.

For me, what was great to see in the immediate opening few minutes was a montage of Stone doing exactly what I’d expect most teenagers to do. Singing to their favourite tunes, painting nails, painting their dogs nails. It’s all comfortable, there’s no crazy out of character stuff going on. It’s just normal.

Bert V. Royal does a good job at keeping the dialogue and action nicely composed, nothing overly cheesy comes from the characters, I mean you’ll find the typical American high school archetypes (which I’m still rather unfamiliar with when comparatively spoken about with Australia’s system) in the form of Marianne, a cah-razy Christian who becomes the source of the lies spread about Olive. But they aren’t too overblown; it’s all handled well by the cast and the director.

It’s interesting to see how nuts people go and how different stories become when siphoned through hundreds of different people. But Director Will Gluck has a smooth handling over it all. There’s a bunch of characters that jump in and out, but it never feels overstuffed, Gluck seems to do it by never giving these players substantial screen time to warrant a primary focus, they are characters we know will probably disappear. Give credit to Royal who does well in balancing the characters and working Olive in and out of scenes appropriately, and also the subtle “meta” joke (if you can call it a joke) with regards to John Hughes and his works.

And yes I admit Penn Badgley as Todd is actually watchable in this as the inevitable love interest. He does really bother me in Gossip Girl. But he seems to be well suited to this material. The notable supporting cast are Thomas Haden Church (who I love from George of the Jungle) as Olive’s teacher Mr. Griffith and Olive’s parents in the form of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are a quirky breather from the high school grounds, all of them put in great performances which give the film a boost.

But the main one to watch is Emma Stone, who, I liked for a while, I mean, I could watch her and enjoy the energy she brought to the screen, but she never had that kind of “wow” factor. But in this, I’m now in love with her, she doesn’t overplay the title given to her as the “new school slut,” instead she walks a line between her original personality and her adopted personality. There’s a particular scene in which she has an emotional breakdown in front of Todd, but sells it so damn well that I really did feel for the emotions the character would have been feeling. You deserve the award season nomination, Emma; I can’t commend the performance enough.

*I guess it's hard to market a teen comedy about sexual truth and all that jazz. So I'll let it fly.

[Not so] Special Features:

  • My memory is awful, but has Amanda Bynes had such puffy cheeks? I can remember her face being a little “thinner” as superficial as it sounds.
  • Did I see Spider-Man Shattered Dimensions being played on the scene with the films flashback to Olive and Todd? FUTURE SIGHT?! OR SECRET KNOWLEDGE of our heroine? Whoa, Thomas Haden Church! This movie looks like a soothsayer edit to Stone’s casting in the new Spider-Man.
  • I don’t like Hellcats. And I’m not “judging” from previews, I have actually seen a string of episodes and it’s awful. I don’t like Aly Michalka.
The Final Countdown:

After it all ended though, I got up from the couch with a smile, I enjoyed the terrific performances that gave characters life, the story was light and smart albeit already done before in different shades and it was all very well handled by Gluck, and I’ll tell you now, that is the god damn truth.

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