Easy A * * *

Genre: Comedy

Director: Will Gluck

Writer: Bert V. Royal

Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Stanley Tucci, Aly Michalka

Running Length: 93 minutes

Synopsis: Olive (Emma Stone) is a somewhat attractive and rather bright high school student, but seems to be coasting just beneath the collective consciousness of the school. This changes overnight, however, when an innocent lie to her best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) about her virginity – she pretends that she had a one night stand with a college boy – quickly spreads like wildfire through the school. And when she helps to “straighten” a gay friend (Dan Byrd) via a fake but extremely public “sexual encounter”, her reputation as a harlot is cemented. Olive initially enjoys the notoriety and the perks that come with “helping out” other social outcasts, but very soon the negatives that come with such a reputation begin to outweigh its benefits.

Review: Good teen comedies are few and far between, and truly memorable ones can literally be counted on one hand (Mean Girls and Juno are the most recent films that come to mind, and they are a 2004 and 2007 movie respectively). While Easy A doesn’t quite reach the same stratosphere, it is undoubtedly the best teen comedy to be released this year, and probably in the past few years. Much of this has to be credited to the sharp writing of Bert V. Royal, and to the excellent ensemble cast.

Never resorting to puerile humour, the film still manages to bring on the big laughs, much of it from excellent one-liners that, while incisive, remain very funny. Most of these are of course from Olive (much as it is pretty unbelievable that a high school student can come up with these), but Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson get a pretty good share as Possibly The Coolest Parents in the World.

Much of the heavy lifting in the film is done by Emma Stone, and she certainly ranks as one of the biggest surprises of the year. Despite this being her first leading role, Emma Stone handles it more than capably, going toe to toe with a fair number of industry veterans. Her portrayal of Olive is near perfect – everything, from her wit to her insecurities and occasional petulance, is spot on. It’s hard to imagine that a girl as beautiful, smart and confident as Stone could possible be a social outcast and not be able to secure a beau, but her performance is so good most audiences will relate to and root for her anyway.

The film is not without its problems. The plot tends to meander a bit too much, the denouement is a little anti-climactic, and the romantic subplot involving Olive feels rather forced and unnecessary. However, Easy A, like its lead actress, is so charming that one can notice all the little niggling flaws and still find the film a really enjoyable one.

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)

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