Easy A is Can’t Buy Me Love for the Mean Girls generation. It knows it and it references that movie and other ‘80s classics, but Can’t Buy Me Love is the accurate one because it’s really about changing people’s lives. There are consequences in this one too, and that’s what makes it so much better than the average teen movie.
Olive (Emma Stone) opens the movie pointing out the cliché of the lonely insecure geek in high school movie. Score one, Olive. Yes, Stone is too pretty and engaging to be a reject, but they’re acknowledging it’s a movie, and also that she’s not so egotistical to think her story is special. It’s just the story she’s telling.
At least this high school heroine is intelligent, well spoken and mature. The film is really smart, beginning with the language it uses. It’s nice to hear characters use words that mean the things they’re saying. The dialogue is clever and the films characters deal with things and make decisions. They’re better than real life people, but that’s what we go to movies for. A lot of the edits don’t match but it doesn’t matter because the dialogue is so snappy it bridges the shots.
There’s a real good deed in the mess Olive gets into. She starts a rumor that she’s promiscuous and ends up getting some attention, but what it becomes is really helping people who need to be accepted. There are a lot of socially needy kids in high school and her rumors help them shed their stigmas. It’s sensitive about issues like homosexuality and obesity without being condescending and playing it safe either.
There’s real sincerity under all the farce and that’s what makes it work. The film addresses the serious side of Olive’s scam in a meaningful way. It’s subtle in good places where you can understand what happened and appreciate the actors without making a scene about it.
The movie also educates kids on Nathanial Hawthorne’s classic novel The Scarlett Letter, so it’s educational. It’s also a long overdue commentary on the Demi Moore remake, although Olive seems mor hung up on the nudity and her accent. The real craziness of that remake was the Native American attack and Hester Prynne action heroics.
This is a true vehicle for Stone. She plays up the tart role, and she makes Olive sexy but never quite inappropriate. She does the mean girl well but most importantly, the real Olive is the one we like the best. She’s smart, funny and so awesome you completely understand how she’s too good for anyone at that school. Stone even sells the cliché of dancing alone in her room singing into a hairbrush. There may not have been a hairbrush this time. I just assume there was because there always is.
All the other actors elevate their characters too. The idiot high school types are cute. They’re not obnoxious and I believe the roles they’v taken on in the social hierarchy. I look back, I get it, I smile. I believe that a high school floozy is proud of her big tits, and my heart goes out to her. I want to be nice to her and build her up so that she learns she also has a great ass.
The cool parents really are cool too. It helps that they hired accomplished actors who are aware of the parenting clichés. They’re involved with their kids but not egotistical about stepping in and making everything better.
Easy A is the teen movie of the decade. I may have to start counting that decade this year but I’d go back 10 years also. I liked it more than Mean Girls or Superbad. Slightly. It really spoke to me in a multi-layered way so I’m happy to lavish it with praise.