FILM REVIEW Making awkward ‘cool’

Emma Stone’s charm makes Easy A the best teen comedy since Mean Girls

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Emma Stone plays the sassy Olive in this teenage comedy.
Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Easy A

Directed by Will Gluck

Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes


In theaters

Our generation has become used to the slapstick SNL teen comedies. At first glance, Easy A is not dissimilar to its predecessors like Mean Girls. However, unlike other attempts at teenage comedy following Mean Girls, Easy A is fresh, cheeky and actually on the mark.

For all teenage comedies, we anticipate a certain level of crassness, in-your-face humor and vulgarities that you could see coming out of the mouths of a twelve-year-old boy. If executed well, it could leave you quoting lines from it for the next few days. If not…it could create that awkward laughter when you don’t think something is funny but you know you’re expected to have a reaction.

The premise is fairly cliché. An ordinary girl at your run-of-the-mill high school attempts to cover up a boring weekend by making up an imaginary fling with a college boy. Her loose-lipped best friend spreads it around and before you know it, the ordinary girl has become the high school whore. Instead of shirking from her (falsely) tarnished reputation, Olive begins to start rumors of flings with the social pariahs of the school. The said girl, Olive, is played by the snarky and charmingly fresh-faced Emma Stone. Emma Stone has all the charms of a younger Sandra Bullock and looks strikingly similar to Lindsay Lohan in her pre-rehab days (Stone gave Lohan a shoutout in her recent SNL spoof).

Another tweenstar? Think again. Stone’s most distinguishing and appealing trait is her ability to embrace awkwardness and turn it into something kinda cool. But Lindsay Lohan did that in Mean Girls you proclaim. No, Lohan morphed from a wholesome and slightly oldfashioned sheltered youth into a queen bee diva. At the end of the film, there was a slight disconnect between Lohan and the audience because she transformed into something too cool.

The best segment of the film could perhaps be Olive busting her lungs to Natasha Bedingfield‘s “Pocket Full of Sunshine” via the small speakers of a greeting card. She belts the song in the recesses of her shower, painting the nails of her dog, and fist-pumping in her living room until the very last batteries of the card are drained. There’s something endearingly intimate about the scene. So many girls can relate — Stone’s natural performance of something goofy and silly but all very ordinary.

We might ask, how does her role come naturally to her? Stone admitted in an interview that she found kinship with Olive because of their shared snarkiness, “verbal diarrhea” and a groundedness that could absolve many highschools of their high-drama reputation. In fact, the director Will Gluck had approached her because he didn’t want someone to “become Olive so much as to be Olive”.

It may seem that I’m overly gushing about Stone. However, she is really what makes the film. From a creative angle, Easy A was piggybacking on the likes all of the teen comedies prior — the 80’s brat pack, the 90’s Clueless. While it had a witty script and a motley cast, the film’s focus on a lovable and fearless heroine was what pulled everything together into a cohesive entity.