WW Critic's Score:
Psst! Did you take notes at that new Emma Stone high-school sex comedy? I did. I'll share them with you if you give me a handjob. Oh, fine, you got me: I'll share them anyway.
- I really liked this movie in 1980 when it was called Little Darlings.
- Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. There was a lot of withering snark in this movie, and it's hard to shake that stuff from the bloodstream.
- The smart, female-targeted teen comedy is an awfully difficult genre to get quite right, but people keep trying, because every so often it hits massively (recent examples: My So-Called Life, Mean Girls, Juno, maybe the first couple seasons of Gilmore Girls, depending on how we're scoring hits). Most of the wanna-bes settle for being relentlessly glib. This one drifts in between: lower honesty quotient than Whip It with Ellen Page, higher than Post Grad with Alexis Bledel. I see a lot of these movies.
- In Easy A's favor: Most of its pop-culture patter is referencing something more than five years old. Example: “The rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” Second example: “Yesterday you were telling me you were Kinsey-6 gay.”
- Discussion question: When Diablo Cody saw Ghost World, was this the worst thing to happen to teenage girls in the past decade?
- To the degree that Easy A works, it is because of Emma Stone, the sultry-voiced redhead who is establishing herself as a savvier Lindsey Lohan, before the paparazzi and the associated debacles. She's very good.
- What Stone radiates here—and it's perfect for the role of a chaste teen who pretends to be promiscuous because she aims to increase her social standing; because she wants to help said gay friend; because things get complicated; because etc.—is not sex so much as knowingness about sex, a satisfied but not unkind amusement at how the game is played. Basically she is the Erotic Destruction of Aaron Mesh Circa 1998, an observation that contributes nothing to an understanding of the film, but I felt like sharing.
- It'd be interesting to know what kind of negotiations Sony conducted with the MPAA on this picture, seeing as it contains Chlamydia as a fairly major plot point but makes not even an oblique reference to oral sex, which from reading Caitlin Flanagan's Atlantic essays I assumed was taking place in broad daylight in middle-school parking lots.
- Amanda Bynes, who has not starred in smart, female-targeted teen comedies, gives a look-away awful performance in Easy A as a abstinence-pledge queen bee who is a kind of lady Tim Tebow, a deeply unpersuasive turn that was probably supposed to be like Mandy Moore's work in Saved! (itself nothing to aspire toward, actually) but instead just comes across as mean-spirited minstrelsy toward anybody with the slightest stirring of religious belief.
- Though, in all fairness, some youth-group kids actually are this dumb.
- Looking at the notes so far, an impartial observer would be forced to conclude that Easy A is pretty terrible, but it isn't. It helps that the adult roles are filled by decent-to-excellent actors—Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Fred Armisen and especially Patricia Clarkson as Stone's mom—who I suspect weren't just taking a payday but were impressed by the quality of the script (or their parts, anyway).
- Something that I hope attracted at least some of these actors: The screenplay twice references Leslie Fiedler's essay on homoeroticism in American literature, “Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey!”
- Male character actors of a certain age have developed a vibrant sideline in playing the supportive dads of smart young women (examples: Michael Keaton in Post Grad, Daniel Stern in Whip It, Enrico Colantoni on Veronica Mars) but none of them have done as much with a half-dozen scenes as Stanley Tucci does here. He has several offhand line deliveries so spectacular that I kept laughing well into the next scene.
- Say what you will about Easy A: It acknowledges that many of the most intelligent and perceptive women will have no real friends until at least college, and for that it deserves some admiration.
- Rather late in the picture, there's a montage of clips from John Hughes flicks (and Say Anything), and I felt the preview audience tangibly relax in welcome recognition of those images, even as Stone declared, “John Hughes did not direct my life.” The audience wanted it to be a John Hughes movie—something not so wised-up, something that didn't come from a culture that forced girls to be so old so young—and in the end, it wanted to be one too.
- It isn't. But even the thought is nice.
Easy A is rated PG-13. It opens Friday at Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century at Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99 Stadium 11, Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18&IMAX, City Center Stadium 12, Cornelius 9 Cinemas, Division Street Stadium 13, Evergreen Parkway Stadium 13, Hilltop 9 Cinema, Lloyd Center Stadium 10 Cinema, Lloyd Mall 8 Cinema, Movies On TV Stadium 16, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sandy Cinemas, Sherwood Stadium 10, Tigard 11 Cinemas, Wilsonville Stadium 9 Cinema.