‘Easy A’ an easy hit

By Kate MacDonald

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Masquerading as a simple teenage comedy, “Easy A” is a film that should be recognized for exactly what it is – a hilarious satire on high school culture, something all young adults are familiar with, whether they like it or not.

Olive Penderghast’s experience, however, is a little different than the average American teen’s encounter. Emma Stone, of “Superbad” and “Zombieland” fame, plays the sassy and snide, yet anonymous Olive.

Olive, who barely registers as a blip on the social radar of Ojai North High School, covers up a weekend spent at home singing along to a singing card sent by her grandparents by telling her best friend she went out with a college guy. Cue the hilarious scene of Olive singing Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” multiple times.

Sidekick Rhiannon – Aly Michalka, a long way from her clean-cut Disney days – assumes she lost her virginity to this mystery guy. To get Rhi off her back and to avoid telling her she didn’t want to go on a weekend trip with her family, Olive admits that she did. After all, hasn’t everyone told a white lie to avoid talking about something?

Unfortunately, in this town of 9,000 people, rumors travel faster than the speed of light. Thanks to ultraconservative Christian Marianne, played by the amusing Amanda Bynes, straying from her normal “good girl” role, the whole school knows as soon as the first tweet hits the internet.

Olive soon decides to embrace this newfound identity in an effort to help a tormented gay friend. Dan Byrd shows his acting chops as Brandon, particularly when he pleads that Olive help him to avoid the usual beat–down he’s accustomed to. He wants to remain invisible just long enough to escape this California town.

So, in a stereotypical wild party scene, thanks to the lengths they go to make peers think they’re having sex from jumping on the bed to making awkward grunting noises, director Will Gluck produces what is probably one of the best “sex scenes” ever.

The only problem is: What happens when the whole school no longer looks at her with curiosity, but disdain? Who can Olive turn to when even her best friend thinks she’s a “dirty skank?” To add insult to injury, other would–be suitors begin asking for her help.

Olive isn’t simply a sharp-tongued strong female protagonist. She is very kind and is always thinking of others. Stone plays this part extremely well – she brings extra layers to the character, so even if viewers have never gone through anything of this magnitude, many can identify with her.

Though the one–liners and hilarious situations can be attributed to writer Bert V. Royal in his first movie writing endeavor, Stone delivers the lines such precision. A genius of deadpan delivery and sarcasm, this will not be the last we see of Stone.

One of the best things about this movie is that, unlike so many other comedies of today, the best one–liners and slapstick scenes are not all given away in the previews. Another great aspect is the cast, which is full of stars and vastly underrated comedians.

Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson support as Olive’s quirky parents and leave the audience wondering whether they’re the best or stupidest parents ever. Also adding to the great cast are Thomas Hayden Church and Lisa Kudrow. Malcolm McDowell, of “A Clockwork Orange,” though only appearing in two scenes as Principal Gibbons, leaves the viewers yearning for more.

The only real weak link is love interest Todd, played by Penn Badgley. Bagley always seems to be stuck as the good guy trying to save the misunderstood good girl. Be it as Scott in “John Tucker Must Die” or as Dan in “Gossip Girl,” his professional technique never really changes. It’s not that the character was played wrong; it’s just an overplayed roll by an actor who isn’t really memorable.

Finally, the cinematography wraps things up nicely, playing it safe with clean shots throughout the film. In a clever technique to show narration, Olive tells her story through a video webcast, during which the shots are grainy and believable.

“Easy A” is already being hailed as a must–see for young adults. But “Easy A” is definitely a movie that comedy fans could truly enjoy. It’s no John Hughes teenage classic, but it’s probably the closest we’ll get to it for a while. It’s not so mature that younger teens wouldn’t understand, but at the same time features raunchy and cultural jokes adults would appreciate as well.

Though Olive, trying to explain her side of the story, admits, “I’m not proud of this,” that’s definitely not a sentiment that the cast of “Easy A,” least of all Emma Stone, should share.

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]