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Easy A

5 Jun

Director: Will Gluck (2010)

Olivia Penderghast, played by the object of most of my jealousy, Emma Stone, has just lied. In an attempt to avoid a potentially traumatising weekend camping with her best friend Rhiannon and her hippy nudist parents, Olivia makes up an older boyfriend who will be taking up her weekend instead. The ffollowing Monday, Rhiannon begins the usual teenage interrogation following a purported weekend with older boyfriend. Olivia panics, lies (again) and somehow has admitted (lied) that she lost her virginity to her (made-up) college boyfriend. And if lying to your best friend wasn’t bad enough, Marianne (Amanda Byrnes), the school priss and general hater, overhears and subsequently spreads the lie all around the school.

In a class about the conveniently chosen novel, The Scarlet Letter, all about adultery and shame, one of Marianne’s church group cronies makes a comment, sparking some fury in Olivia that results in her first detention. Here she meets Brandon (Dan Byrd), an estranged friend to whom she confesses the truth about the lie to which he responds with his own lie he has been living and that he is in fact gay. It’s a teen comedy, there had to be a gay-best-friend-sub-plot in there somewhere. Thankfully this one isn’t too dire and in fact is rather endearing, and a useful plot device as Olivia decides to help Brendan out by pretending to continue her new slutty status and de-virginise him to quash any ‘rumours’ that he might be gay and thus make him popular. In keeping with the usual genre conventions, this must be done in a public setting and where better than in an overzealous house party that in reality would cause too much irreparable damage to ever be permitted to be repeated by the parents, no matter how ‘liberal’ their parents are. Cue the usual awkward sex noises and bed bouncing as the two liars head to a room to do the do behind a closed door propped up by the entire student body.

Following this performance, Olivia’s reputation is concreted as the school slut and business is booming as other social outcasts, geek and reprobates call upon her ‘services’ offering cash and gift vouchers to pretend she did some variation of the nasty with her. There’s a hierarchy system in place for how ‘involved’ they want the lie to be. Cue homewrecker allegations, STIs, the boy she really want to lose her virginity to (Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley) and a perhaps unnecessary acting out against the self-imposed rumour mill by embroidering red ‘A’s – ala The Scarlet Letter – onto grossly school inappropriate clothing, and we have ourselves a perfectly enjoyable, if predictable, teen comedy.

Special mention has to be given to her adoptive family, Patricia Clarkson and a disconcertingly attractive straight Stanley Tucci whose roles as those crazy freewheeling liberal parents who often pop up in such films actually provides some genuinely hilarious moments thank to some great chemistry and reparte between the characters, particularly Tucci and Stone.

The movie is framed with Olivia telling her story to a webcam, something I’m not a massive fan of but in the context of the film and the fact that Stone’s delivery is suitably sarcastic and light hearted, these scenes avoid becoming too YouTube video diary and instead just suggest an attempt to create an alternative narration to the traditional voiceover. Easy A isn’t doing anything new but it does contribute to my belief that Emma Stone is one of the few beautiful female comedic actresses who can successfully transition between commercial teen flicks such as this, and indie comedies (Zombieland). It would be interesting to see whether she will stick with comedy or whether the future might add a few serious roles to her showreel.