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Archive for October 25th, 2010

Easy A

Olive (Emma Stone) is a regular student at small-town high school in California. Her life is unremarkable, she has a loving family and she is an exceptionally bright pupil, unfortunately she isn’t especially popular and her best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) is a vacuous bitch. Basically Olive is your average teenager or at least your average movie teenager. When she tells a small lie, it leads to a bigger one. The lie in question involves Olive losing her virginity, that is overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes) the ringleader of a religious group who both preach and pledge purity. As the story spreads around the school she embraces the notoriety of her new status and agrees to pretend to have sex with a gay friend who is trying to hide his homosexuality.

I grew up in the 80’s, so was spoilt for great high school movies, many of them written and or directed by John Hughes. Since then the quality has been there from time to time but not in the quantity we enjoyed in the 80’s. With Clueless (1995), 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) and Mean Girls (2004) it was about time we had a new entry in the series. Following the successful formula of using classic literature for inspiration, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Clueless used Jane Austen’s Emma and 10 Things I Hate About You used William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew). The difference here is the overt references, the class are studying the novel in English. There are numerous references to the Demi Moore film version as well as a more subtle reference to the German adaptation “Der Scharlachrote Buchstabe”.

There are some nice touches such as the device used to allow Olive to talk directly to camera. The whole movie has a post-modern tone that works really well. Working as both a homage to and an update of 80’s movies. Just likes its main character the movie is cutting and sarcastic but most importantly knowing. The supporting cast is brilliant, Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow as teachers, Malcolm McDowell as the headmaster all excel. The standout performances come from Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olives parents. At the centre of all this is Emma Stone, in last years Zombieland she showed moments of brilliance but had to compete with Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson, as the star here she is really given a chance to shine and doesn’t disappoint.

Only time will tell how well it ages but here and now I think it is the best high school movie for a decade.

Four Stars out of Five

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