Monday, September 27, 2010

Review: 'Easy A' for Tom Magazine

Whoops! Forgot about this one, was published on Tom Magazine last week.
Easy A

Director: Will Gluck.
Starring: Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Dan Byrd.

Reviewed By Anna Angel.
Fodder for pun-embracing reviewers like myself, Easy A calls for an old-school style of grading. Gluck makes a near-faultless pass at smart modern comedy - self-referential and tinged with an obvious nostalgia for yesteryear, with imperfect and therefore likeable characters - but falls short of flying colours. The film is the strongest release in its genre perhaps all year, however it relies too much on its predecessors, particularly John Hughes’ teen masterpieces, seeming content to pay homage rather than blaze a new trail. Let’s call it a big, red, embroidered A-minus sewn onto Ferris Bueller’s t-shirt, with extra credit for the talented and sassy cast.
Emma Stone establishes her compelling character, Olive, and the unique storytelling device utilised for the duration of the film early on. We discover a refreshingly frank and sarcastic (but not narky), intelligent and charming girl broadcasting her story over webcam. "The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated," she begins. A white lie designed to relieve Olive of a weekend camping trip with her best friend and her wacky pothead parents turns into a fictional tryst with an older boy.

This falsified loss of virginity spreads across Olive’s school like wildfire, and in no time she’s the go-to girl for closeted homosexuals and unpopular fatties who have a lot to gain from her reputation. Hamming it up for a cohort she at once seems to seek approval from, and be indifferent to, she accepts gift cards and coupons in return for taking fake virginities, or allowing stories of boob-grabs to be circulated. This quickly lands her in trouble with the school’s Christian circle, but by the time it causes serious damage it’s too late to back out of the lie.

What stands out about this film is that it provides supportive and genuine adult characters that are far from the two-dimensional teachers and parents of most teen films. Olive’s parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci, are playful, very much in love and while supportive, trust she can fight her own battles. They’re the family you wish you had; the family you only encounter in the kind of film that would see their trust brazenly betrayed by a misguided teen, only to be won back with a grand gesture or self-reflecting speech. This is when you realise that Emma Stone is not Lindsay Lohan in any of her early roles, and this is not an overly moralistic movie. Thank god.

You don’t have to be sixteen and dying to lose your ‘big V’ to sympathise with these characters, or appreciate the script. Even if you’re left questioning why this smart, gorgeous young woman, who seems comfortable within her slightly dorky self seeks the attention of her classmates, you’ll still be on her side. Easy A is a must-see for anyone who’s been brainwashed by American Pie and the endless spate of spoof flicks into thinking teen movies must include crass humour or whiny, self-absorbed youth navigating their first-world problems and warring via SMS.

Easy A in cinemas now.

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