Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie Review - Easy A

Easy A - ***1/2

Directed by:  Will Gluck

Starring:  Emma Stone, Aly Michalka, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow

Review:  This movie completely solidifies my crush on Emma Stone.  She plays the "mature beyond her years, loveable, nice girl" role so well it's really quite amazing.  Her role in this film is no different and no less excellent.

We all remember what it was like to be in high school.  Some of us were really popular, went to parties, excelled at athletics, and dated cheerleaders, the rest of us just struggled to either be noticed or not be noticed.  The majority of people in high school that are not in the "popular" crowd skate right through high school unknown to anyone else.  Then there are the people who get noticed, but for the wrong reasons.  This is the crux of 'Easy A.'  What starts as a joking confession to a friend about a sordid tryst, turns into a rumor that takes the school by storm and before she knows it Olive (Emma Stone) is infamous around school for her sleezy affairs.

At first reluctant, Olive begins to embrace her status in the school and even marks herself with the 'scarlet letter' coinciding perfectly with her class's study of the book 'The Scarlet Letter.'  Throughout the movie, Olive draws comparison's from her tale to the book's, and even looks to the book's main character for help.  It is once she begins to get recognized that she decides, she is not going to bear her punishment quietly like the heroin in the book, rather embrace and throw it right back in everybody's face.

This leads to her reputation spiraling out of control as she struggles with maintaining herself through all the hubbub.This becomes increasingly hard the more people get involved and the more their reputation is tied to hers.  She begins to be looked at negatively by most of her school but is so caught up in her web of lies there is no way to turn back.  To explain any more of the plot would be a disservice.  The plot is not full of crazy plot twists or anything but it is definitely best to go in not knowing what's going down.

What is good to know when going in is that this movie is very well acted and written as sharply as any movie this year.  The dialog is intelligent and witty without being wordy and without making you question whether or not a high schooler would actually speak that way (see: Juno).  This movie nails the high school mentality so perfectly it is scary at times.  The movie often references John Hughes high school movies and not since those movies has the angst of being a teenager been so perfectly portrayed.

The question of whether it's better to be known for something negative or not known at all, the "popularity at any cost" mentality, is struggled with mightily by our main character and it is pertinent question.  Many avenues were open to Olive that weren't before based on her newfound notoriety.  Olive enjoys this but at what cost is all this having to her?  She can accept that her reputation will never be the same, but will she ever be the same?  Olive maintains that she is the same person throughout this whole ordeal and you sense how important it is to her to maintain herself no matter what.  However, she learns that perception is reality and if she can't maintain her reputation then she will eventually become what she has been pretending to be.

Seems a little profound for a comedy but it is all handled in such a lighthearted witty way it doesn't become distracting.  Emma Stone is the perfect actress to take us through this journey to remain level headed and still seem like a high schooler (something Ellen Page was unable to do in Juno).  This is why this movie is so enjoyable and definitely worth your time.

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