I’ve said before that some movies sure wear their inspirations on their sleeves. The ‘80s teen comedy genre is something that’s sorely been missing. When you find a movie with a true ‘80s vibe coming out now, it should be cause for celebration. You may think, judging by the trailer, that Easy A is aiming for the easy target of tweenage angst, but at least it sets its sights higher and longs for the yesteryears from when “A John Hughes Production” truly meant something.
With only his sophomore effort under his belt now, Will Gluck could be someone worth watching out for if the rest of his repertoire can live up to Easy A.(Gluck’s freshman film Fired Up! was a quickly dismissed guilty pleasure.) However, a lot of the credit needs to be shared with writer Bert V. Royal in his screenwriting debut. Calling to mind the likes of everything from Heathers to 10 Things I Hate About You along with everything in between from Mean Girls to Jawbreaker including a dash of The Girl Next Door and a slight shade of Juno, Royal absolutely revels in the teen comedies that ran the gamut of multiplexes during the true heyday of instant 80s teen comedies.
While Emma Stone may not be a household name quite yet, she’s instantly recognizable having co-starred in Zombieland, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, The House Bunny, The Rocker, and of course Superbad. Proving herself far more assured and even more promising than another overly famous redhead (Lindsay Lohan), Stone nails what it is like to be a misunderstood outcast, at least that’s what my fiancée tells me. Having never been a teenage girl, the more movies like this I see, the more thankful I am not a girl.
The plot is a tad overly convoluted, but that sort of adds to the film’s charm as it seems to suffer from the same issues as the lead character, Olive Penderghast (Stone). Olive lives a seemingly normal life for considering herself such an outcast. She gets good grades at Ojai North High School, spends her free time listening to her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) continually bitch about the 411 around school, and actually talks to her hilariously open and brazenly honest parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) while playing word games with peas or deciding which movie to watch for Best Family Winner Night as her father chooses to “Bucket List this bitches!”
When Rhiannon tries to get Olive to join her for a weekend camping trip with her hippie parents, she tells a little white lie that instantly snowballs to gargantuan proportions. The “terminological inexactitude” of her situation gets embellished even more so when it grows from having lost her virginity to letting other people at school either feel her up or lose their virginity all for the sake of gift cards to everywhere from Amazon.com to Home Depot to Bath & Body Works coupons.
With a watchful eye cast upon her by local Christian extremist Marianne (Amanda Bynes), everything spirals out of control and things take a turn for the worst between getting sent to detention by Principal Gibbons (Malcolm McDowell) to the threat of being expelled after she brandishes all her new school stripper outfits with a big red “A.” Her favorite teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church) may think she’s taking their reading of The Scarlet Letter a little too seriously, but little does he know that maybe it’s his student guidance counselor wife (Lisa Kudrow) who could use some counseling of her own.
Director Gluck sure knows how to ring hilarity out of a montage and how to bring a joke back for killer effect, and what movie doesn’t need a musical number for no apparent reason. With a game cast and everyone bringing as much funny to the table as they can, it’s no wonder that the film never feels as maudlin as it could. Thankfully when things get sort of serious it never overshadows the jokes and, while everything works out in the end, at least the film earns its finale which just may feature the most hilarious joke of the whole movie even if, as it was pointed out to me by said fiancée, it happens to be one wallop of a plothole. If a hilarious joke is the only plothole your film features, then I’d say you’ve done your job quite well.
Easy A is worth paying the money for and hopefully it finds an audience as anyone who grew up with the beloved John Hughes comedies can appreciate what’s on display, while current teens can play catch up and finally discover what all the fuss was about.
Photo courtesy Screen Gems