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Easy A

Whilst being a little too snarkily self-satisfied, Easy A is a reasonable success – it’s funny in parts and works in a slight-but-sophisticated way. But for Emma Stone, though, you’d have to mark it up as merely ‘reasonable’ – John Waters without an edge that decides it wants to be John Hughes without the lack of cynicism.

It has the requisite snappy sarcasms and ingratiating lefty self-criticisms, and a decent script, but the actors are all a little too chuffed with how, like, cutting-yet-charming the whole thing is. The address-to-camera conspiratorial ‘we’re the cool kids’ familiarity. The trendiest parents ever committed to film. The multi-cultural family. The bored-yet-flamboyant erudition. The collective shrugs as to the dumbass machinations of the assorted characters.

Stone is a student that hasn’t really had much in the way of boyfriends. They ‘don’t notice her’ (of course not) and so, when her friend presses her to spend the weekend with her and her ‘weird’ family, to evade such matters she concocts a ‘date’ with a mysterious fellow and then, when Monday rolls around, spins the yarn out too far to take in affirmatives as to having had sex. A few mobile beeps later and she’s an instant dirtbag and the restlessly voyeuristic youth are all fascinated in her every further move.

Furthermore, the douchebags not getting any want her to take more reputation flogging in the name of their lowly star, as, obviously, any fat kid not getting his end away will flourish off the back of scurrilous rumours as to his bagging the school’s newest slut. Even the gay kid wants to pass himself off as scuzzily hetero – Stone to the rescue. All these for a fee, of course.

As all this is rattling along we get Stone addressing the camera with what will prove to be a ‘live webcast’ to all the significant players absolving herself of guilt or harmful intent in playing along with the truth, etc, and gently and unbitterly admonishing everyone who jumped on the bandwagon for their dire willingness to grind someone into the dirt. 

I must mention – though I’m tempted not to – that there’s a ‘Scarlet Letter’ reference running through the film which buys some easy laughs, and aims for a bit of reflected kudos. But the parallels feel a little bogus and are, it seems, a little too swiftly and eagerly employed – ‘This is an intelligent, considered and multi-faceted teen-comedy!’ Stone also manages to get a few references to John Hughes films in, and there’s a Say Anything moment towards the end, before we’re all ushered through the exits with elasticated smile appliques to snap on around our happy faces.

To be fair, this is a pleasant and enjoyable film that goes after all the right targets and raises enough smiles. Emma Stone, a young Aniston (pray it doesn’t go as awry) is about as perky and appealing as it gets and does comedy effortlessly well (though is less successful when trying a little too unnecessarily hard – some of the winning mugging is too much) and Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci and Thomas Haden Church do far too few films. Even Lisa Kudrow – perhaps the only ‘Friend’ to have a cleverly (though no less exacting) cultivated career post Central Perk – has deigned it worthy and it’s never less than amusing. It’s no Election, though, and isn’t even quite Mean Girls (though it surely thinks it is).

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 17, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    I’m sure as a teenager I too wouldn’t have noticed Emma Stone. Nothing in that strikes me as at all unlikely.

    • March 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

      It’s even more of a case of impossible-to-suspend-disbelief than Larry David with Evan Rachel Wood on his arm.

  2. March 18, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Excellent review. Stanley Tucci’s is the best (and most under-used) performance here, I think. When he asks his adopted son “where are you from originally?” I, like, literally had to pause the DVD I was laughing so hard. Smug yes; but funny too, I think.

  3. March 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Thank you very much. And I have to agree that Stanley Tucci is the best thing in this and it’s fair to say I’d watch anything he was in. The scenes at home are without doubt my favourite elements of the film (who wouldn’t want those two as mum and dad?) and the line you mention is a reminder, for me, of what the film could’ve been and was not quite often enough…

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