Friday, September 24, 2010


Emma Stone has bloomed into a leading lady.  But she's not QUITE the "it" girl. And that's why Easy A truly lives up to its name.

Make no mistake - all those people who have hailed the movie as Stone's coming out party are absolutely correct. She is simply sensational playing a girl who enjoys her new notoriety as the school harlot after  the rumor mill buzzes that she's done it - never mind that she didn't.  I first took notice of her as someone to watch in Superbad. She was also great fun in The House Bunny, one of the few Happy Madison/Adam Sandler movies with at least half a brain. And she was great again in the hilarious Zombieland

Easy A marks the first time she has to carry a picture, and she doesn't just carry it - she gives it a piggyback ride, flips it in the air and then catches it again on her very capable shoulders. Stone is wonderfully sassy and sarcastic. At one point in the film, talking about The Scarlet Letter, she deadpans, "Make sure you watch the original, not the Demi Moore movie where she talks in a fake British accent and takes a lot of baths." Give that girl an Oscar nod, not just a Golden Globe nod.

And yet, it is almost possible to overpraise Stone. She's tremendous, but she isn't the whole show. Notice the number of talented adults in the cast: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her parents. Thomas Haden Church as her favorite teacher. Lisa Kudrow as the guidance counselor All are terrific, and I don't think they all would have been here if the script by Bert V. Royal weren't crafted so well. 

Not only is Easy A very funny, it's also very smart - smart enough to give its story and characters real weight. I loved that the parents weren't the usual well-meaning dolts who come through with the pearls of wisdom at just the right moment. I loved the teacher's new world weary rant about Facebook, addict though I am. And I especially loved that Bert V. Royal's screenplay creates real consequences - there's much more at stake in the movie than mere popularity.

My only significant quibble is the overemphasis of the religious zealots who make Stone's life miserable. For one thing. lampooning these Bible-thumpers is akin to shooting fish (and loaves) in a barrel. And for another, Saved mined similar territory more gracefully. Amanda Bynes plays the ringleader very well, but Mandy Moore got there first and did it even better.

Even if the movie sometimes picks easy targets, it hits all of them. Easy A is the best high school comedy since Mean Girls - and like Mean Girls, it's not just for teens. This is a movie for people who graduated high school (and college) too. 

GRADE: A- (Natch)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This looks great! I saw a preview for it and wondered if it was something a nearly 40-something could enjoy? Your thoughts ... you touch on it a bit ...