Rumours are hard to live down, just ask Easy A‘s Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone). What was supposed to be a cover story to avoid hanging out with a friend sees her under-the-radar high school life take a drastic turn for the worse. The bit of gossip she made up to obscure a weekend spent alone ends up in the wrongs and within the blink of an eye Olive goes from being a complete nobody to being known by her classmates as the girl who puts out. This may seem like the end of the world to some, but Olive embraces this newfound fame. She can’t help but be taken in by actually being noticed by her peers and decides to play her new persona up.
After alterations to her wardrobe, making less than subtle reminders to The Scarlett Letter, Olive finds herself being in a unique scenario: being approached by guys she’s never talked to before (who now know her by name), while also being in the cross-hairs of a group of religious fanatic students led by Marianne (Amanda Bynes).
When her gay friend Brandon (who is being bullied due to sexual orientation) tells her that some people just want to blend into the crowd, she quickly retorts, “Well, then you’ve gotta do everything you can to blend in, or decide not to care.”
As the rumours continue to pile up, and Olive finds herself losing control of the situation, she quickly learns that not caring how people view you is a lot easier said than done.
In recent years, studios have relied heavily on the old adage that sex sells and have thus flooded the marketplace with stories that all seem to focus on teens losing their virginity and rely on gross-out humour, with the obligatory topless scene(s) to sell tickets. That doesn’t mean the films aren’t funny, or aren’t worth seeing; however, when a smart, sharp-witted, generation-defining comedy like Easy A appears on the scene it’s a breath of fresh air that you almost can’t wait to exhale just so you can inhale it once again right after.
Making his writing debut, Bert V. Royal hits a home run on his first at bat, coming up with a film that plays as both a tribute to John Hughes (who some, including Easy A‘s director, Will Gluck, see as the creator of the high school archetypes that continue to live on both in the movies and reality) as well as a spot-on, albeit sometimes exaggerated, take on high school, and the teenage society that accompanies it. Gluck (Fired Up!) takes the reigns of the film, and pushes it in the directions it needs to go, at the exact pacing it needs to hit, in order for the humour, story, and characters all to work as well as they do. The dialogue is fresh, and smart, and while there are plenty of laugh out loud moments, it’s the story behind the laughs that really propels the movie forward.
But then, as good as the direction is, and as strong as the dialogue and wit is, it could have easily gone downhill without the proper leading lady. Stone, who is likely known by most as Wichita from Zombieland, completely envelops the role of Olive and has made it the type of role that will thrust her up the ladder as far as fresh-faced leading ladies go. Not only is her comedic delivery flawless, but the scenes which involve her taking it to another, more emotional level make her seem like a complete natural; her ability to just be extremely likable is an asset that A-listers need, and with the door wide open for a new crop of actresses at the top, it’s only a short matter of time before that’s where she’s regarded.
The supporting cast is also extremely strong, with Thomas Haden Church playing the part of Mr. Griffith, Olive’s straight-forward, admirable English teacher, to which the only complaint that can be attached is that we almost don’t see enough of him. Along with Church there’s an always solid Lisa Kudrow as his wife, the school guidance counselor. Bynes also does solid work as Olive’s enemy, and it’s good to see her back in some capacity. A nice surprise in the film are Olive’s quirky and always funny parents, Dill and Rosemary (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson). The two have great back and forth chemistry, and their scenes with Stone, their adopted son Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins) and their laid-back parenting ways are always welcome, and never fail in bringing some laughs.
Like The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the films it wishes to mirror and regards so highly, I see Easy A as the type of film that can be picked up and watched at any point, enjoyed, and never truly get old. Go ahead, pass it on.
The video is featured in 1080p 1.85:1 ratio, and looks great. There are certain scenes that may seem a little washed out, but you really have to be looking for it, and in all honesty, this isn’t the type of movie that needs to be flawlessly transferred in order for it to be enjoyed. At the same time, outside of those very few instances, the film is vibrant, colourful, with a picture as sharp as the wit found in the film. The audio is also spot on, as music tracks, and speech never collide in a way that causes the viewer to strain to hear either or. The sound is clear as any viewer should really need it to be, and so long as the jokes are heard, and the beats aren’t missed, there’s not much more you can ask for.
There are a few special features that are exclusive to Blu-Ray, so let’s go through the standard special features, before breaking it up with those exclusive to Blu-ray
Gag Reel – There’s no real need for a description here, as it’s pretty self explanatory what this is. Those who enjoy seeing some of the inside jokes, or completely blown lines that occurred throughout the making of the film will likely enjoy this quick jaunt through the humorous hiccups on the set of Easy A.
Emma Stone’s Audition Footage – As with most audition footage, you’re getting a raw take on, what is likely, a completely finished product that you’ve just seen. The lines will be different, and some of the scenes may not even exist, but this is what the actors have to go through in order to get the job, so it’s always fun to see them jump through the hoops. There are a handful quick audition tapes to be found here, and you can’t help but notice the talent that just exudes off of Emma Stone when watching them.
Commentary with Director Will Gluck and Emma Stone – Now this is a treat for fans of the film, as it’s rare that you get the star of a film back to do the actual audio commentary. It’s not unheard of, but it’s rare, and it’s especially nice here, as Stone was the one who carried the entire film on her shoulders. At the same time, Gluck is filled with enthusiasm over the film, as can be seen in the special features below, and those who want a bit more insight from those closest to the project need look no further.
Exclusive to Blu-ray
The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties – This is a quick, five minute featurette that sees the cast and crew talking about the impact the movies from the ‘80s have had, and how things were worked into this film as well, both as an homage, and a modernization.
Vocabulary of Hilarity – Also roughly five minutes long, this featurette is quite humorous, and talks about the language used in the film, and just how much the language changes throughout generations, mainly during the high school years. They talk about the sexual dialogue used in the film, where Olive is discovering things like the “Lemon Squeeze” or the “Backwards Melon-Bag,” and while you’re watching the film, you honestly ask yourself (in your head of course) “What in the hell IS a backwards melon-bag?!” Don’t worry, you aren’t completely out of the sexual loop, as it was Writer Bert V. Royal and Director Will Gluck who actually coined these terms, and admit that they’re completely random words thrown together, and that whatever we thought they were, as bad as it may have been, means that we’re actually the sickos who thought the worst. It’s a fun, quick feature, with a nice moment that has Gluck talking about how Urban Dictionary is a threat to the comedy writer. Check this one out for sure.
The Making of Easy A – This is a nice bonus for those who do get the Blu-ray, as it’s a 15-minute feature that’s basically your standard making of, but with the addition of insight from all the cast and crew along the way. Yes, it’s short, but there aren’t any wild chase scenes, or big, explosive shoot-outs that require any in-depth making of, so it does the trick quite nicely.
There’s also a Pop-Up Trivia Track that plays throughout the movie, which is always nice when going through repeat viewings.
After all the cookie-cutter teen sex comedies that have flooded the market in recent years, Easy A looked like it may just be another one looking to make a quick buck; however, luckily for audiences, it was anything but. It’s a smart comedy that’s full of wit, sharp, creative dialogue, and an original spin on a genre that’s become a broken record of sorts in Hollywood. Led by the incredibly strong, award worthy performance by Emma Stone, Easy A is not only an easy recommend, it’s essential viewing.
Screen Gems Presents an Olive Bridge Entertainment Production Easy A. Directed by: Will Gluck. Starring: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Aly Michalka. Written by: Bert V. Royal. Running time: 92 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: December 21, 2010.