Easy A is a witty film that both replicates and parodies teen movie conventions. Although it does not reach the higher echelons of the likes of Mean Girls, it is fun and inventive nevertheless.
When Olive is overheard telling her friend Rhiannon about losing her virginity, the rumour spreads around high school like wildfire. Although the story isn’t true, Olive begins to enjoy the notoriety of being the school slut. Olive’s life, however, begins to resemble that of Hester Prynne’s in The Scarlet Letter, the book she is studying at school…
Stripped back to its narrative basics, Easy A trends a familiar path in teen movie terrain. While it is concerned with social standing and romance like most other films in the genre, Easy A turns convention on its head somewhat by having a female protagonist who actively encourages rumours about her promiscuity. Rather than shy away or be mortified at the gossip, Olive uses it to her advantage, benefiting financially and in social standing.
Easy A is very witty, but not laugh-out-loud hilarious. The film elevates itself above many of its peers by overtly referencing the 1980s teen films (and John Hughes in particular) that clearly have influenced writer Bert V. Royal. Thus, Easy A does not just feature elements of 1980s teen films, but also actively make reference to them. Most evident of these is Say Anything, which is paid a delightful homage by Easy A.
Olive is an amiable protagonist who uses her wit to deflect the hostility of her classmates. It is clear from the interactions with her family that she is a smart and well-balanced girl, which makes her easy to relate to. Elsewhere, Easy A features some teen movie stereotypes like the holier-than-thou Marianne, as well as characters that defy the archetypes, such as teacher Mrs Griffith.
Emma Stone is incredibly likeable as Olive, and proves she has the talent to headline a film. Stanley Tucci gives an amusing turn as her unconventional father. Amanda Bynes seems aptly cast as mean girl Marianne, while Penn Badgley remains untested as Todd, a character very similar to the role he plays on Gossip Girl.
Production values are good, with Olive’s webcam narration appearing entirely appropriate given the context. Director Will Gluck shows a flair for the teen film; offering the audience what they expect, with a little innovation and plenty of one-liners.
Easy A may not be raucously funny, but it is a cut above many other teen films of the last decade. Highly recommended for fans of this genre.