Title: Easy A
Directed by: Will Gluck (Fired Up!)
Starring: Emma Stone (2011 Friends with Benefits, Zombieland), Penn Badgley, Cam Gigandet (Twilight, Priest)
Every generation of American teens needs at least one romantic comedy driven by the day’s biggest actors that also relays their angst and frustrations. The 1980s had the multiple movies directed by John Hughes, including ‘The Breakfast Club,’ ‘Pretty in Pink’ and ‘Sixteen Candles,’ while the late ’90s and early 2000s had the original ‘American Pie’ trilogy. Screen Gems’ answer to these films for this decade is the new low-budget ensemble movie ‘Easy A,’ starring new teen favorites Penn Badgley (of ‘Gossip Girl’ fame), Amanda Bynes, Cam Gigandet (remembered most for ‘Twilight’), Alyson Michalka (from TV’s ‘Hellcats’), Dan Byrd (most recently seen in TV’s ‘Cougar Town’) and Emma Stone (from ‘The House Bunny’) in her breakout film role.
While having the misfortune of opening against the already critically acclaimed second movie from director Ben Affleck, ‘The Town,’ ‘Easy A’ picked up momentum and gained attention when Bynes announced in mid-June that the film would be her last. The 24-year-old former child star posted on her Twitter account that she knows she’s very young to retire, but she didn’t find acting fun anymore. However, just a month later, Bynes took to her Twitter account again, retracting her statement, saying she would like to take more acting jobs as they come along.
Even though ‘Easy A’ will face tough competition at the box office from ‘The Town’ during its opening weekend, it didn’t need Bynes’ big announcements to draw attention to it. It perfectly pinpoints the downfall and pettiness of high school as it follows smart, but socially non-existent student Olive Penderghast (played by Stone) as her reputation undergoes a makeover. Lying to her friend Rhiannon (portrayed by Michalka) about losing her virginity as a way to explain why she didn’t go camping with her, Olive’s world turns upside down.
Their Christian classmate Marianne (played by Bynes) spreads the rumor to the entire school that quiet Olive lost her virginity, and her life starts to resemble the book they’re reading in their English class, The Scarlet Letter. In order to uphold her new reputation and as a way to make money, Olive says she partook in sexual encounters with otherwise socially awkward boys. But as her reputation starts to go downhill, Olive tries to find a way to restore it.
Director Will Gluck’s decision to cast Stone, the most relatively unknown younger lead actor in the movie, as Olive was a smart decision. Like with her classmates with Olive at the beginning of the movie, the audience knows they’ve seen Stone somewhere else before, but they’re not exactly sure from what. But by the end of the movie, they both proved themselves to be worthy of knowing and remembering in the future. Stone showed that she understood Olive’s desire of wanting to move up in life, and is the breakout star of ‘Easy A.’
The movie also stands out for describing youth’s problems with society in a creative way. Instead of just having Olive complaining to Rhiannon about her ruined reputation or having her write in a diary, screenwriter Bert V. Royal had her discuss what went wrong with her plan in an internet video blog, which she broadcast to everyone in the school. Royal also showed that it’s perfectly fine for teens to stand up for themselves and go against what’s popular in an effort to make themselves feel better.
While teens may go to see ‘Easy A’ for the sexual content, they will most likely walk away from it, having learned an important lesson. While they may not realize that Screen Gems and Gluck were trying to show them that standing up for themselves is the ‘in’ thing to do, they will eventually come to realize that not going against their morals is more important than fitting in.
Written by: Karen Benardello