Take Two: Easy A

4 Oct

Pac’s Take:

John Hughes was a writer, producer, and director of many of the most iconic films of the 1980s including: The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and many more (but not Say Anything contrary to what many may think).  His credits go way beyond these films into what I think are his better works (Christmas Vacation and Home Alone come to mind) but for the purposes of reviewing this film, remember the first group of movies I mentioned.  Easy A is Hollywood’s love letter to John Hughes; and it is a very well thought, perfectly delivered love letter. 

Easy A is the story of Olive (Emma Stone), a misfit girl who goes unnoticed in her high school by the people around her until she gets caught up in a lie she told to her best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka).  When the whole school finds out about this lie, suddenly she becomes noticed by her peers and is now regarded as harlett (seems like the most p.c. adjective and it’s also used in the movie).  Olive further complicates the issue by agreeing to influence further rumors that she is having sex with multiple boys at her school while accepting payment for these lies in the form of gift cards.  From this point on the film explores the morality of Olive’s lies and how she learns to cope with the new attention she is receiving from various people and cliques at her school (all of which is chronicled by her video blog).    

Not only does the plot of this film sound like it was written by John Hughes himself, but there are multiple references to his films and even glimpses of his films throughout this movie.  This is a good thing though because like many of his works, Easy A is very enjoyable, well crafted, and memorable.  The performances of this movie are very strong, the characters are likeable, and the plot is original and up to date (even thought it contains a lot of familiar motifs). 

Some of the reviews I’ve read for this film are coining it the breakout role for Emma Stone, and for good reason.  In addition to her performance, there are a lot of strong supporting performances to compliment the film.  The cast list is peppered with recognizable names and faces so I’ll only mention a few that I felt strongly about.  Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson were laugh out loud funny as Olive’s parents, and Lisa Kudrow turned out a strong performance as Mrs. Griffith the guidance counselor.  However, I was very surprised by the performance of Penn Badgley.  At first he comes off as just another pretty face, but this is not the first strong performance I’ve seen him give; and while his screen time in this film is limited, I think he has a lot of potential (a la a young John Cusack). 

I can’t give a whole review with at least a little negative criticism, so here it is (kind of).  Part of me wishes I went to a high school from a hollywood movie, but mostly I’m glad I didn’t because I would have been one of the ugliest mugs there.  In what world does a girl who looks like Emma Stone and has the personality of Olive go unnoticed by her peers?  Have you ever been to a high school where a guy who looks like Penn Badgley is an outcast?  Why didn’t my high school have a dress code like this one (props to whoever chose Aly Michalka’s wardrobe)?  At least there wasn’t a choreographed dance number at a pep rally or something (oh wait).  While this film is more believable than some in its portrayal of the american high school (*cough* She’s All That *cough*), it looks more like a college campus than a high school.  

Who let the normal looking girl in the shot?

 

Overall though this movie was great, much better than I expected.  Here are my overall scores. 

  • Characters: A
    Cinematography: B
    Direction: A
    Performances: A-
    Plot: A-
    Overall: A-

Chris’ Take:

Hollywood seems to have found its new teenage-to-early twenties star in Emma Stone. She has the sardonic, smart and sharp-tongued beauty role down perfectly as seen in Superbad, and now in Easy A. After seeing this film and hearing the news that she will be Kirsten Dunst’s replacement in the new Spider-man reboot, I think she will be perfect for that as well.

Easy A starts out kind of slow, and seemingly aimless, but after the first half-hour really takes off on a great comedic pace. What I like about the comedy in this film is that it is found more in the words that are spoken than the humorous situations (even though there are plenty of those to go around as well). 

While I think it is a more realistic (I am using that word very lightly) look at high school, it still seemed only slightly above average as a teen comedy and doesn’t live up to some of its predecessors like The Breakfast Club or Mean Girls.  

However, the star of Easy A far outshines the star of Mean Girls. Yeah, I know, it was a cheap joke, but I couldn't resist.

It does try to be something more than a comedy, but just barely misses at the attempt of having something seriously legitimate to say about the detriments of the rumor mill and the importance of being your own person. 

What makes this movie good is the solid script and the great performances. Aside from Emma Stone, there were a number of notable characters as well. While Amanda Bynes’ character was annoying, it was supposed to be, and for the first time I will give her a nod as having a decent performance. Thomas Haden Church also has a great role as Olive’s teacher, Mr. Griffith. 

While this film was good and a step above the majority of teen comedies, it still misses the mark of being great (but only by a bit.

  • Characters: A
  • Cinematography: B-
  • Direction: A-
  • Performances: A
  • Plot: B+
  • Overall: B+

TOTAL TAKE TWO GRADE: A-

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2 Responses to “Take Two: Easy A”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. World Wide News Flash - October 4, 2010

    Take Two: Easy A…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Movie Reviews by Author « Chris Petersen's Film Blog - November 10, 2010

    […] Easy A                                           A-                              B+  […]

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