"I thought she was going to take her clothes off! This is some bullshit."
The recent path of the mainstream American teen movie is not too dissimilar to that guy in Robocop who drives into a vat of toxic waste. A once proud institution took a dive into an American Pie shaped chemical pit to emerge deformed and disintegrating in a gooey mess of dick jokes, empty sex, cheap sentimentality and unfunniness. To the point where, like our boy Paul McCrane, it can't be long before it falls apart altogether. Which makes very happy to see a movie like Easy A. Which though flawed, is so fucking refreshing its not even funny. Smart, entertaining and hilarious in its own right, and containing a star-making performance from Emma Stone. I found it to be a joy. For the simple fact that its humour comes from dialogue and character rather then someone inserting a sex organ into an inanimate object.
At times it reminded me of a more family-friendly version of Heathers, the film that will probably always be the best high school movie, given that both have very successful satirical elements, this going after the sexual double standard, and mostly very successfully, whereas that film went after teen suicide. Both films revolve around the attempt to rise above that all-consuming high-school movie hierarchy of popularity and reputation that is always king. With Stone's character all but shouting 'this is bullshit' from the rooftops. Easy A isn't as good with or as brutal toward its subject matter as Heathers, but what it is is a very winning, very funny ride with something to say. The film wouldn't work without Stone's performance being as good as it is though, and in playing her quicker-than-thou, near saintly Olive, she both handles the movie's many sarcastic one-liners with the highest possible amount of aplomb, but also creates a believable character out what could potentially have been a messianic male fantasy, the hot girl come down from on high to save your high school experience, but Stone lends her such a likeable believability that it leads me to outlandishly say that if Ellen Page can get Oscar nominated for Juno, Stone should be acknowledged for her great work here and not get ignored just because its in comedy. She is that good.
Elsewhere in the supporting cast, things are a little less cut and dry. I think the Juno-lite quirky parents would have been irritating if not played by actors of the class of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, Cougar Town's Dan Byrd does some good work as Olive's gay friend Brandon and whilst Thomas Haden Church's teacher character is a little stock for this kind of thing, he so nails one particular line about Coke Zero I'm willing to forgive that. Perhaps Amanda Bynes is the weak link as Christian girl Marianne. She goes at it a little too hard, undermining the mostly deadpan tone of the rest of the movie. But fuck it, the script is intelligent and witty, the film is legitimately funny and I really, really enjoyed myself. I think the last time I came out with that feeling from a high school film was probably Donnie Darko, and to be fair that was only half a high school film. I grant it may not be for everyone and you could say it kind of derails in its final twenty minutes and that the love interest sub-plot is kind of thin, but it did pretty much everything I want from a high school comedy, outside perhaps of really exploding to the top level. But between Stone being always awesome and the movie being kind of awesome, it comes very much recommended.