Friday, September 17, 2010

Movie with Abe: Easy A

Easy A
Directed by Will Gluck
Released September 17, 2010

“The Scarlet Letter” is fairly standard required reading all across the country. As the vocal protagonist of director Will Gluck’s new film points out, most people don’t actually read it. The meaning of the red letter A shouldn’t be lost on most, however, and mirroring Hester Prynne’s experience with a modern-day high school fable about an unpopular girl trying to help out her unpopular, unattractive guy friends by pretending to sleep with them is an absolutely brilliant move that proves relatable and entertaining thanks to its plucky lead character and her utter detestation (and repeated acknowledgment) of the way life in high school works.

Much of the success in “Easy A” is due to lead actress Emma Stone. After a breakout role in “Superbad,” she pursued supporting avenues, both dryly dramatic (“Paper Man”) and dryly comedic (“Zombieland”), and now she’s finally landed herself a starring role. She’s more than up for the task, using her uniquely low and sarcastic voice to vent Olive’s frustrations about the world and her misery in high school. The film is initially structured around a video blog being created by Olive, and though the segments seem to become alternately less and more frequent as the film goes on, Stone’s helpful narration helps the movie stay coherent and avoid becoming disjointedly segmented.

Stone leads a diverse ensemble, some of whom stammer in the background to little effect, like Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, and Cam Gigandet, while others are vital parts of the film’s winning comic tone, such as Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, and Alyson Michalka (now cheerleading on the CW’s “Hellcats”). Newly un-retired actress Amanda Bynes seems to have found her calling playing an airheaded religious fanatic, and though it’s hardly a difficult role to play, she fits the bill as directed. The film does fall prey to the fact that it is a high school movie and therefore seems to need to adhere to some unfortunate and uncreative plot-related clichés, but as a whole it’s a productive effort that offers a good number of laughs and plenty more amused smiles.

High school movies in the 1980s may have simply been about living life in high school, but these days, there’s often an additional element that helps to serve as a parallel from the past to current events. In this case, it’s extraordinarily effective, and with the exception of some occasional texting, there’s little about this film that solidifies it as being in the present day as opposed to anytime in the past twenty or thirty years. Olive’s own frequent references to how 1980s high school movies aren’t like real life only serve to further drive home the point that this movie, though considerably spunkier than some of its inspirations, is just as much a definitive high school movie as those 1980s classics are.


No comments: