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A is for awesome

As well as adorable, amazing, and absolutely hilarious.

Inspired by Nathanial Hawthorne’s classic “The Scarlet Letter,” “Easy A” tells the tale of   Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone). Olive is a typical high school student who is invisible to the rest of her class until she inadvertently starts a rumor about herself and the loss of her virginity.

Word quickly spreads across the school and instead of denying the rumors; Olive embraces them, going as far as embroidering scarlet “A’s” onto all of her clothing. She then lets fellow classmates borrow her new alter-ego to tell a few stories of their own in return for Target gift cards and coupons to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

The rumors run rampant and get exaggerated beyond belief. Olive discovers that infamy isn’t the same thing as popularity and wishes for her old life of anonymity. I don’t want to give anything away, but the ending would make John Hughes proud.

The high school/teen comedy genre came of age in the 80’s under the tutelage of the late-great John Hughes.  Those films, such as “Sixteen Candles,” “The Breakfast Club,” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” created a template that would be used for teen movies for decades to come.

Easy A” has everything you’d want from one of those classics: stereotypes, first loves, and a musical number for no particular reason. It is fully aware of all the clichés and doesn’t shy away from them. In fact, it points them all out so you can’t miss them.

Somehow that works. This may be a movie you’ve seen before but it is updated with witty dialog and surprisingly unique twists on the classic high school character archetypes that make it feel fresh and new.

Besides the incredibly well-written script, the casting is another reason the film works so well. The movie hinges on the audience connecting with Olive and it takes the right comedic actress to do that. Finally, a self-confident teenage heroine that is smart, sarcastic and doesn’t get all angsty at the sight of the boy she likes. Stone is charming, engaging, and really, really funny. You instantly relate to her and care about what happens to her.

Dan Byrd, who is the first to borrow Olive’s slutty alter-ego, is also funny and heartwarming at the same time. He shares excellent comedic chemistry with Stone which makes their scenes together that much better.

But my favorite on-screen couple is Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s parents.

Typically, in a teen movie, the parents, if they were in the film at all, would be oblivious to their child’s life. They’d have as much dialog and personality as Charlie Brown’s teacher. In “Easy A,” they actually care about Olive and her life. Not only do Clarkson and Tucci play a vital role, they share some of the movies funniest scenes.

The rest of the cast is rounded out by familiar faces, including: Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Cam Gigandet, and Malcolm McDowell, whose characters can feel a bit flat at times, but that is easily forgiven.

“Easy A” is smart, funny, and can appeal to anyone who ever went to high school. (Not just those that are currently enrolled.) It is easily one of my favorite comedies of the year.

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  1. Pingback: The Commuter: Vol. 42 « Art in the Rye Design - June 18, 2011

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