Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For A Good Time, Call Emma Stone

Easy A is one of the most pleasant surprises I've had at the movies in a while. It's flat out hilarious and, except for a one dimensional villain, the characters grew on me and didn't insult my intelligence. This is pretty much the opposite reaction I expected to have when I saw the trailer. The trailer made me think this would be a contrived plot and a sitcom episode expanded to a two hour movie. It wasn't, or at least the movie was so well made that it didn'ty feel like it was.

The lead character, Olive, is played by Emma Stone, an actress who gained attention when she played the object of Jonah Hill's affections in Superbad. After that, she starred in some shitty movies, left movies for a shitty TV series then came back to movies just in time to be in Zombieland where, again, she became noticed. After I saw Zombieland, I was hoping to see her again in a more substantial role. She's the kind of actress who always seems to be smart and strong on screen even when she doesn't have much to do which is probably why she landed a role that I'm certain every young actress in Hollywood tried to get.

The movie is told through flashbacks in the form of a webcast that Olive has put together to tell the world that everything they think they know about her is wrong. Olive's problem is that she's 17 and is so anonymous at her high school that even horny teenage boys treat her life she's invisible. Things must have changed since I was in high school because I don't remember girls as pretty and sexy as Emma Stone being invisible. Then again, if they were, I guess I wouldn't have noticed so I'll have to take the movie's word that this is possible. Anyway, her troubles begin when she tells her best friend Rhi (Aly Michalka) she has a date as an excuse to not go camping with her and her nudist parents. This leads to her lying about losing her virginity to this non-existent guy she supposedly just met. Unfortunately, this lie was overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes), head of the school's "Don't Fuck Till Jesus Says It's OK" Club and, thanks to modern Facebook culture, it only takes minutes for her to get a reputation as a slut. You older folks out there who read overblown articles about today's so called "hookup culture" that make you think all teens are sluts these days and that blowjobs are the new way of saying hello might be surprised that this is still a bad thing but it is.

Still, she's not anonymous anymore. People notice her even if it's only to sneer or making thrusting motions as she walks by so she goes with it and pretends to have sex with a gay male friend so he will no longer be beaten up for being gay. This begins a series of circumstances that leads to people thinking she's selling herself. I wish she'd consulted me on this because I could have told her it would only be a matter of time before a boy actually tried to pay her for sex which is pretty much what happens.

The movie has its flaws. As I said, Amanda Bynes' Marianne is a weak link in the story. Except for a funny sequence in which she tries to befriend Olive, her character isn't particularly entertaining and is probably the least realistic thing in the movie. Still, that only lowers the movie to an A to A- in my book so it's still pretty damn good.

One major complaint stems from a hilarious scene near the beginning of the movie when Olive receives a musical gift card from her grandmother that plays Natasha Bedingfield's Pocketful of Sunshine. At first, Olive dismisses it but, in a sequence that gets funnier as it goes, she ends up belting out the tune along with the card and making it her ringtone. That was the first clue that I was in for a treat and that the movie could even stand along with the films of John Hughes as an excellent teen film. It's also how I got that damn song stuck in my head. For that I say: Screw you, Easy A.

Take me away-ay ♫ GAH DAMMIT GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

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