Easy A proves that sometimes a movie is better than the sum of its parts. Despite numerous problems with the script, and the fact that the younger cast members don’t deserve to be on the same screen as the more experienced veteran supporting players, the film surprises and shows that perhaps director Will Gluck (Fired Up) is working his way toward a first rate comedy.
Easy A is the story of Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), a girl that we are lead to believe has never been asked out for a date and is totally ignored at school. I’ll give you a second to remember that this is Hollywood we’re talking about, where Kate Winslet is always the dumpy best friend. Anyway, after another weekend spent alone, she lies to her best friend and whips up a tale of romance, which is overheard by the school’s head Jesus freak and quickly makes the rounds.
I would like to quickly point out two things here. First of all, I can only assume that the producers decided, that to pay the supporting cast, they would skimp on the younger cast members because the two worst actors in the movie are in the scene I just described. Alyson Michalka plays Rhiannon, Olive’s best friend. Looking over her IMDB page, it appears that she has really only been in Disney Channel productions, which means that we are almost rid of her. Then comes Ms. Amanda Bynes (She’s the Man). You may remember she posted on Twitter a few months ago that she was retiring from acting due to her unhappiness with the scripts that she had been receiving. During the film, all I could think was how much better Mandy Moore was with a similar role in Saved a few years back. Mandy Moore! We’re not talking Meryl Streep here. Every moment Bynes was on the screen felt like an eternity. Just horrible.
Back to the plot. For some reason, we are led to believe that Olive goes to the last high school in America where it is scandalous for a student to have a sex life. To tie into her literature class’ reading of The Scarlet Letter, she decides to find out what will happen if she stretches the rumor further. She pretends to have sex with a gay male friend at a party in an effort to “macho” him up in front of the guys. She then starts accepting gift cards from dorks at school in exchange for them to tell everyone that they fooled around with her.
Again, this is a fault in the basic foundation of the film. Who cares if a girl that was basically invisible a week ago has sex with a guy that was unpopular enough to get beaten up on a regular basis? Also, Olive’s “sex” life results in what amounts to a religious lynch mob forming in the front of a public school with no repercussions? I’ve been out of school a while, but even I know that there are cops around now.
However, as I said at the beginning of the review, this is a film that is much better than the sum of its parts. The supporting cast cannot be lauded enough. Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olivia’s parents steal every scene, with Tucci making a serious case for one of the best actors working today and hopefully more people will know Clarkson’s name coming out of this. Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow are both excellent in roles that are much too short, and their story could have carried a movie of its own.
Gluck is only the latest in a long line of filmmakers to attempt to recapture that early 80s John Hughes (Sixteen Candles) teen magic and serve it up to today’s youth. Amazingly, I believe he comes closest to succeeding.