Theatrical Review: EASY A

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
September 10th, 2010

Rating: 3.5/5

Writer: Bert V. Royal
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson
Studio: Screen Gems

If EASY A is going to be compared to any other movie of the past few years, it will undoubtedly be MEAN GIRLS, and it’s easy to see why. Emma Stone will most definitely remind people of Lindsay Lohan. They’re both cute redheads who have some decent comedic chops, and Stone is in a similar point in her career to where Lohan found herself upon the release of MEAN GIRLS. That is where the comparisons should end, though. Emma Stone has much more potential for a great career compared to how Lohan’s has turned out, so that comparison isn’t really fair to Stone. And, as a film, EASY A is more closely be aligned with 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. Both films are, to a certain extent, modern retellings of literary classics.

While 10 THINGS was a loose retelling of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, EASY A tells the story of a student taking her curriculum-required reading (in this case, Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter) and making that the focus of her high school experience. The plot begins innocently enough for any high school story- it begins with a simple lie, or rather a non-denial of the truth, which in high school is all that’s needed for any kind of judgement to be made.

Stone plays Olive who, during an encounter with her best friend, during which she is asked about her weekend, doesn’t cop to sitting at home alone instead of going camping, but instead makes up a fake date with an older college boy. As most things like this do in high school, the lie spreads like wildfire and the movie takes off from there. Olive instantly transforms from an innocuous “nobody” in high school to the school trollop – a twist on her reputation that she simply goes with.

The usual suspects of high school stereotypes are here, and Olive’s main enemy is played by Amanda Bynes, in what is supposedly her last role before announcing her retirement a few months ago. She plays the leader of the Christian religious group on campus who decides it is her duty to save Olive’s soul. EASY A is different from other classic high school fare  in a couple of ways, mainly in that Stone’s character is very headstrong and is much more world-savvy than some of her other high school movie character compatriots. She has a sense of what life will be like when high school is over, and she’s come up with this plan to help less popular kids have a more typical high school experience. She sees the big picture and realizes that it’s more than likely that who we are in high school is not who we grow up to be.

The strength of the film lies in knowing its roots. It makes numerous references to a lot of ’80s movies, very few ’90s movies, and almost no ’00s movies. And these references aren’t in parody of these films, they are an homage to. There are far too many to name, and it would be a joy for a connoisseur of the great high school movies of the past to watch EASY A and recognized some of their favorites, because the film is truly respectful of its genre.

Ultimately, this film is more than worth a moviegoer’s time in the theater, and the wonderful performance of Emma Stone is right up there with some of the greatest characters of high school movies, the ones you wanted to take home to Mom.


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