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Emma Stone passes the test and gets an 'Easy A'


Does Easy A  really give Clueless and Mean Girls a run for their money? Emma Stone in "Easy A." Photo: Screen GemsWell, to compare the film to either of those would be doing it an injustice, since it’s not aiming to mimic or steal either’s thunder. No, from the crafty title, to the clever depiction of high school life, not to mention the dynamite performance by Emma Stone, Easy A stands on it’s own as an original (enough) teen comedy.

Conceived as a contemporary re-interpretation of The Scarlett Letter  filtered through an contemporary teenage perspective, Easy A explores loss of virginity, prostitution, sexual orientation, and adultery among other topics during its, zippy 88 minutes, and covers the spectrum with wit to spare.

The film opens up with Olive (Stone) speaking directly into her bedroom webcam. As she begins her story (divided into chapters via scribbled on notebook paper), it’s noted that things started off very low key for the smart, quiet girl. Olive, as she indicates, was invisible to the student body, until she makes up a little white lie one day in the school bathroom, claiming she lost her virginity to a 22 year-old college kid. Just so happens that the wrong girl was hiding in the bathroom stall when the lie was told, a Jesus obsessed bible nut named Marianne (Amanda Bynes), who spreads the rumor like wildfire amongst the campus.

Now that was enough to put Olive on the map, but then things take a turn for the scandalous. While in detention she meets Brandon (Dan Byrd), a gay teen struggling with sexuality and getting the crap kicked out of him in school. He convinces her to stage a faux sex session at a big high school party so that the kids will think he’s a stud. The scene, which has them moaning, spanking, screaming, and jumping on the bed behind closed doors as their shocked peers listen in from the outside, is absolutely raucous and will go down as a classic scene in teen comedy history.

This event labels Olive a whore, as those around her start to think she will sleep with absolutely anything and soon the backlash starts. Rather than resist it, however, Olive decides to embrace the label, vamping it up to the absolute extreme, arriving at school in lingerie, bold lipstick, and an A tattooed across her chest. When other kids approach her to offer money in exchange for “fake rocking their world," she soon gains the reputation of high school prostitute that renders her the most hated girl in school.

Easy A is a sharp teen comedy, no doubt about it, but Stone’s fearless performance brings the film to a whole new level. Stone is a comic firecracker, loveable and razor sharp with her comic timing in a way that makes Lindsay Lohan’s turn in Mean Girls look bland. The film’s weakness then, is that it never bothers to do anything else with the teenage cast that would render them memorable. None of the other actors carry a fraction of Stone’s ferocity with the exception of Bynes, who gives a hilarious turn as the school Jesus freak. On the adult front, both

Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci  are having a ball as Olive’s parents, brimming with energy and spouting forth the outrageous dialogue with panache.

Easy A clocks in under 90 brisk minutes and knows just when to quit. It isn’t bogged down with cliché plot elements and corny love entanglements. This is just smart entertainment with fresh, funny dialogue to spare that never talks down to the target audience. Oh, and of course there’s that spectacular leading lady too (Alicia Silverstone would be proud). With Easy A, 2010 has officially found its definitive teen flick.

Contact Jim Teti at jeti@philly2philly.com

Photo: Screen Gems