"Easy A" is one of a large number of quirky comedies that have been showing up over the last several years in the wake of films like "Juno". Indeed, "Juno" is the movie that most readily comes to mind when discussing "Easy A". Both films feature terrific lead performances from young actresses, slightly over-the-top supporting characters, and whip-smart dialogue.
Spoilers for the film after the jump:
But while "Juno" is a genuinely endearing and lovable movie, "Easy A" just rings... false. Instead of being quirky and slightly off-kilter (which is fine), it just feels cartoonish. The fact that it's entertaining and often quite funny doesn't entirely make up for that, although Stone is delightful enough to hold an auidence's attention no matter what else is going on.
Stone plays Olive, a high-school girl who has basically flown under the radar her entire life. On a whim, she makes up a story about losing her virginity with a community college guy. Soon enough she develops a reputation as a slut, particularly after she pretends to sleep with a gay friend in order to help him get through the rest of high school peacefully.
It's an interesting premise, but it's not executed nearly as well as it could have been. As a matter of fact, it's not executed well at all. Some of the jokes are funny, but they're never subtle or deep. There were so many potential avenues that the movie could have explored with this idea, such as differing standards for men and women (Olive is branded a slut while no one bats an eye in regards to the guys she "sleeps" with) and peer pressure in high school. But they're not touched on at all, or if they are it's brief.
The filmmaking is also way too cute. There are far more gimmick shots (slow-motion and the like) than necessary, and Stone's admittedly clever voice-over narration is over-utilized. In addition, the supporting characters are one-dimensional at best and caricatures at worst. Once again, there's a difference between the quirky parents in "Juno" and Olive's bizarrely "hip" parents in this film.
On top of this, way too much time is spent on rather tedious subplots, such as Olive's relationship with a religious fanatic and her discovery of a relationship between the school guidance counselor and a student.
In spite of all of this, some parts of the film really do work. I'm particularly thinking of the final third, when Olive finally realizes the seriousness of what she's done and has to try to repair the damage. There's less overly cute dialogue and some genuine tension during these sequences, although a happy ending is never really in doubt. And I'll admit to finding the final scenes rather wonderful.
But they're not quite good enough to merit spending 90 minutes of your life on this fairly engaging but ultimately meaningless movie. Emma Stone is without question an actress to watch in the coming years, though. She's excellent at conveying emotion on screen, and she basically carries the movie. 2010 truly was the year of the actress, and here's one more performance to add to that impressive list.
Film Grade: B-