Whether or not I recommend Easy A comes down to a simple question: Do you like Clueless, 10 Things I hate About You, or Mean Girls? I typically try to avoid such oversimplification, seeing as everyone has varying degrees of taste. However, I’m pretty sure if you are a fan of one of those three films, then Easy A will easily be worth your hard-earned dollar.
Like 10 Things and Clueless, Easy A is very loosely based on a piece of classic literature, transplanting the story to a high school setting for the benefit of the illiterate and apathetic American teenager. Here the classic is The Scarlet Letter, and the message is some crap about virtue and being yourself and zzzzzzzzzzzzz…what…oh, yeah…sorry. You might not be able to tell by my dick-ish attitude, but I actually enjoyed a lot about this movie. I’m a huge fan of Clueless and I like 10 Things and Mean Girls, and for fun since Easy A most reminded me of it, let’s throw Saved in there as well.
A lot of my enthusiasm begins with Emma Stone, in a crackerjack comedic performance as the intelligent, beautiful and ultimately intimidating Olivia. Stone may be a little too hot for the part, but she is just aloof enough to push past her sex appeal. In an understandable bid to win a modicum of peer approval, Olivia perpetuates a lie about losing her virginity. This leads to her performing hilariously fake sex as a favor to a homosexual friend, which in turn leads to her pimping out her fake sex skills to all the unpopular boys seeking their own slice of the high school pie. The rest is rom-com predictability, but Stone never shortchanges her character. She doesn’t play down to the material and in the process raises it up.
She’s not the only one either. The older supporting cast also steer clear of cliché. Instead of phoning in the uninspired roles of Mom/Dad/Teacher, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, and Thomas Haden Church infuse their parts with charm, wit, character, and depth, when none of these things are actually required of them. Tucci and Clarkson are so unmatched that I not only wish they were my parents, but that they were together in every movie.
I can’t say the same thing about the rest of the cast. They aren’t bad, they just aren’t operating on the same level as Stone and Co. The “zealots are hypocrites” plot isn’t handled well either. It aims a little too broad, considering how well it was done in Saved. The film is also heavy on the referencing and the self-referencing. After a while it becomes clear the movie wants you to think it’s cleverer than it is. Seemingly pretentious, but it’s really not as annoying as I’m painting it. A simple and effective story, being knocked out of the park by select members of the cast, renders these flourishes unnecessary.
It’s been awhile since the genre has had something as strong as Easy A, so I’m very forgiving of its missteps. I would go so far as to recommend it even if you don’t like Clueless. Then again, if you don’t like Clueless, I don’t know that we can still be friends. Possible deal breaker people! Rent it for the breakout star, stay for the perfect character actors.