For a teen rom-com, Easy A is pretty darn good. It prides itself on harking back to the days of great ’80s teen films, primarily those starring “The Brat Pack.” While it doesn’t quite slip into the ranks of say, The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire or Sixteen Candles – some of my faves – it’s definitely in the running for addition to the lot. Easy A winkingly builds off of The Scarlet Letter, a book which many high school English classes will make students read at one time or another (at least when I was in school they still did). The film has a pretty subversive use of literature throughout, with cute The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn references and the opening monologue’s Mark Twain spin.
Emma Stone plays the titular, “A”-donning girl, and she’s perfect for the role. She’s a really cute actress, and although everything I’ve seen her in ends up being the same role for her, I can see in her the ability to play a variety of deeper, more layered characters if ever given the chance. To the film’s credit also, director Will Gluck has lined up a pretty nice cast of supporting adults for the film. In fact, the last time supporting adult roles in a teen-based drama were this good, it was Donnie Darko. Thomas Hayden Church plays a Sideways-esque English teacher; Lisa Kudrow plays his wife and the school Guidance Counselor. The ever-fabulous Patricia Clarkson is Emma Stone’s mother, and her husband is played by Stanley Tucci (here again, the filmmakers winkingly build off the roles he’s known for: gay men).
Best about it is that the comedy is handled well by Gluck and his actors. Light on the slapstick and sans the unnecessary gross-out humor, it’s all pretty current social class commentary through the open, accepting eyes of the young Stone. Gluck handles the pokes at the Bible-thumping students, the homosexual students and the other cliques throughout the social order with care. Easy A makes no bones about what it’s stance on teen sex is, but it shows that the kids with the intelligence, an open and accepting family life and a little sensitivity can make decisions about their lives just as solidly as any adult can do. I hope to see more of these types of teen comedies in the future churned out of Hollywood.