At one point in “Easy A” Olive (Emma Stone) says “John Hughes did not direct my life.” True enough, but he could have directed this movie. The story of a girl who takes the saying “let’s not and say we did” to a whole new level has echoes of Hughes and is the best high school comedy to come along since “Mean Girls” and “Superbad.”
The movie begins with the voiceover, “The rumours of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” It’s the voice of Olive (Stone), a clean cut high school senior who tells a little white lie about losing her virginity. As soon as the gossip mill gets a hold of the info, however, her life takes a parallel course to the heroine of the book she is studying in English class—The Scarlet Letter. At first she embraces her newfound notoriety; after all she had been all but invisible at the beginning of the school year. “Google Earth couldn’t find me even if I was dressed as a ten story building,” she says. It isn’t until the lies and gossip start to spin out of control that she has to assert her virginity.
“Easy A” is funny. Laugh out loud until your face hurts funny. Even the product placement—Quiznos—is funny. It’s filled with great one liners—“I fake rocked your world!”—and the best non-sex, sex scene ever but as good as the script is, it is enhanced by terrific comedic performances that elevate the movie from clever teen romp to something special.
Leading the cast is Emma Stone, the typical movie not-so-plain, plain girl, as the spunky Olive. Her past work in “Superbad” and “Zombieland” hinted at her ability to be funny and hold the screen, but here she turns a corner into full on Lucille Ball mode, mixing pratfalls with wit while pulling faces and cracking jokes. Smart and funny, she’s the film’s centerpiece and this should be her breakout movie.
Supporting her, as her parents, are Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. Tucci, who recently creeped out everyone who paid twelve bucks to see “The Lovely Bones” unleashes his silly side here, proving, once again, that he is one of our most versatile actors. Clarkson, as his freewheeling wife (and Olive’s mom) brings bucket loads of charm and comic timing. When they are together sparks fly.
Uniformly strong are Amanda Bynes, in what was supposed to be her last role before her retirement from acting, and Dan Byrd (from The Hills Have Eyes) as Brandon, a gay teen who turns to Olive for help. His plaintive plea for her to help put an end to the teasing he takes at school is heartfelt and touching and real.
“Easy A” is the most fun I’ve had in the theatre in a long time.