'Easy A' speaks true to the high school experience - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

'Easy A' speaks true to the high school experience

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Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2010 6:30 pm

Emma Stone is an actress most people probably know better by face rather than name. Her most recognized screen credits include Jules in Superbad and Abigail Breslin's elder sibling in Zombieland. While Stone might not necessarily be a household name, I think that's all going to change with Easy A.

Stone plays Olive, an average high school student who is unnoticed by all her fellow peers. I find it hard to believe that Emma Stone would be invisible to all the boys in school, but I suppose it's no more probable that Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel would both be without suitors in Valentine's Day. To avoid going on a camping trip one weekend with her best friend, played by Alyson Michalka, and her nudist parents, Olive lies about having a date with a college student. This tiny fib leads to another when Olive says she lost her virginity to this nonexistent man. Olive suddenly goes from being a ghost to the most talked about girl on the playground.

With the entire school gossiping about her, Olive confides in her gay friend, played by Dan Byrd, about her fake one-night stand. He pleads with her to pretend to have sex with him so everyone will stop tormenting him about his sexual preferences. Olive reluctantly agrees. After this phony sex stunt Olive's popularity skyrockets to even greater heights as more helpless virgins seek her out. Deemed as a slut by the school, she is inspired by The Scarlet Letter to stitch a red "A" onto her clothing.

This premise might sound no more promising than some recent trashy teen comedies like The Girl Next Door and I Love You, Beth Cooper. What distinguishes Easy A from those movies though is its refreshing sincerity. Where most high school movies depict teenagers as mean-spirited and driven only by sex, Easy A paints a realistic portrait about the pressure of losing your virginity and finding acceptance. Like the best John Hughes movies, which the film respectively pays homage to, Easy A speaks true to the high school experience and the crushing feeling of being an outcast. And while it doesn't quite reach the heights of Juno or Mean Girls, this generation's quintessential teenage movies, the film comes very close.

Another attribute Easy A has going for it is the outstanding supporting cast. There are hilarious performances all around from Thomas Haden Church as Olive's favorite teacher, Lisa Kudrow as a guidance counselor, and the apparently retired Amanda Bynes as Olive's extremely religious nemesis. The funniest performances of all come from Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive's consciously corny parents. It's comforting to see a movie with parents this understanding showering their children with love no matter what.

As wonderful as the whole cast is, this is truly Stone's movie. She is funny and delightful here, which I've come to expect. But Stone also brings a one-of-a-kind heart to her role that few other young actresses could. She makes us genuinely care about and even love Olive, wanting to see her overcome her peculiar dilemma. Walking out of the movie your immediate thought will be; "Now there's a star."

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for five years, reviewing movies on his website, NICKPICKSFLICKS.com. Reach him at nspake@asu.edu.

 

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