Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review - Easy A

Easy A is a tickling high school comedy about how a clean-cut but invisible student (Emma Stone) embraces a volatile rumour about the loss of her virginity to attain the attention of her peers, only to realize that her new-found notoriety is more a curse than a blessing.

One of the challenges in watching Easy A is trying not to compare it to the movies of John Hughes. It's clear that screenwriter Bert Royal and director Will Gluck posses an unbridled fondness for Hughes' filmography, but they're only partially successful in emulating the man's youth-defining philosophies and style. Part of this may be due to the frequent and self-aware homages to so many 80's classics such Sixteen Candles, Say Anything, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Breakfast Club, that remove us from the experience of this movie, which is funny enough on its own. It need not allude so blatantly to its superior ancestors.

And the film really is funny enough on its own. If Easy A is a distant relative of the Brat Pack staples, then it's a less-distant relative of the more recent Mean Girls by virtue of its rapier wit and modern comedic sensibilities. Most of the credit should go to the cast, who put on a clinic of pitch perfect line delivery, with special mention to Emma Stone. On top of scoring consistent laughs with her casual zingers and appropriately dry facial expressions, she also manages to bring across her character's relative childishness. She acts like an adult, but is actually a little girl who isn't really ready to face the consequences of the monster she's created. Along with a score of bit players whose performances are right on target, Stone elevates the material to the point where we can enjoy it in spite of its flimsiness.

The flimsiness to which I refer includes a premise that holds little water, slightly cartoonish characterizations (such as crazy Christian fundamentalist and two bewilderingly liberal parents), and an ending that's a bit too tidy and indulgent. The film also passes over opportunities to make more sober commentary on the viral potency of gossip and the pitfalls of fame, instead reverting back to cracking wise whenever it comes close to a semi-serious moment. At least the wise-cracking succeeds in and of itself.

This is certainly not an Oscar movie. It's be terrific to see Stone nominated for such a tricky comic performance, but I suppose a Golden Globe nod will have to do.

**1/2 out of ****

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