Review: Easy A (2010)

Directed by: Will Gluck
Starring: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes

It takes a lot of guts to use an overly familiar high school setting as the backdrop for, you guessed it, another teen comedy that sets out to exploit traditional teenage stereotypes. Normally, these so-called “efforts” are generally uninspired, offensively dull and often rely on a crude, unrefined sense of humor to appeal to the select few who couldn’t care less about intelligence in modern-day cinema. Will Gluck’s Easy A however manages to effortlessly break free from this mold to establish itself as one of the wittiest and most enjoyable entries into the genre to come along in quite some time.

While its more immediate predecessors have failed in conveying a worthwhile statement about the social perils today’s youth must endure on a day-to-day basis, Easy A has decided to employ the fabled high school rumor mill in an effort to rectify the issue. Lucky for us, the approach in question is nothing short of brilliant, carrying with it a substantial amount of authenticity in relation to the setting itself, combining equal parts believability with an ample amount of laughs, appropriately witty banter and thoughtful pacing as Olive dishes out the real story behind her recent social decline.

Olive’s choice to aid her fellow classmates in the racy manner she so chooses also proves to be an excellent vehicle in helping the film maintain a sense of originality and self-worth, and although the film’s intended influences are easily identifiable, the script as a whole remains intelligent and engaging enough so as to overcome any flaws this presents. The dialogue itself is nothing short of exceptional, and while some may find Olive’s excessive wit to be a bit much here and there a la Ellen Page’s Juno a few years back, it only ends up serving as a testament to the film’s overall appeal when coupled with its exceedingly charming female lead.

The segmented narrative structure director Gluck and fledgling writer Bert V. Royal have chosen to put on display also functions well enough, and while it’s apparent that the film loses but a wee bit of steam during some of its more heedful moments, it never really suffers from an unevenness of tone and benefits from some generally thoughtful direction. As you may have already heard, Emma Stone’s terrific performance as female dynamo Olive remains the most appealing aspect of Easy A, and it’s because of her efforts that even the film’s less favorable moments, despite them being few and far between, are rendered enjoyable. Excellent chemistry exists between Stone and the equally impressive supporting cast, more specifically Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s passive-aggressive parents who serve to procure a hearty chuckle at all the right moments, proving to be a slightly unconventional and appropriate source of comic relief.

All things considered, Easy A is quite simply a gem of a film that’s trademarked by a remarkable central performance, an uncannily intelligent script and excellent sense of humor. The powers that be have successfully avoided adhering to the trite conventions similar films have fell victim to recently, bringing forth a refreshingly original teen comedy that fires on all cylinders and rarely falters, even during its less appealing sequences. Of course its obvious admiration for the iconic John Hughes generation of films we’re still in love with today is partially to thank, but as a stand-alone piece of cinema, Easy A is also quite the achievement, and a surprising one at that.

Rating: 8/10

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