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Easy A (AF)


Stars: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Aly Michalka

Director: Will Gluck

Another week, another American high school movie. But if you think you’ve already had your fill of catty cliques, hunky jocks, cute cheerleaders and all the other familiar components of the genre, think again. Here, thanks to Gluck’s light but telling handling of the sharp screenplay (Bert V Royal) and, particularly, Stone’s amusing performance.

She’s particularly effective talking to camera as she confides her plight to the world at large through the Internet. “There are two sides to every story” she tells the computer camera. “This is my side and the right one”.

And the story? In an amusing riff on Hester Prynne’s scorned adultress in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘The Scarlet Letter’, Stone ends up wearing a red ‘A’ when she achieves notoriety at school by being branded a “superslut” after she lies to a friend that she has lost her virginity and her white lie goes viral. Stone decides to stick with her newly-found ill-repute and dresses and acts the part making her the target for Bynes and her straight-laced moral group and pretending to make wild and noisy love at a party to a homosexual student who is keen to stay the closet while pretending to run with the pack.

While the resolution is never in doubt, getting there is enjoyable. Engaging cynicism runs through the film, heartlessly defusing both potential clichés and incipient sentimentality and the casting of the supporting roles adds to the entertainment. Tucci and Clarkson, especially are a delight as Stone’s unconventional parents, Kudrow (the one from ‘Friends’ who can actually act) has a telling cameo as the school counsellor and English teacher Haden Church’s wife and McDowell revives his career as the offbeat headmaster with a defiant English accent.

While I wouldn’t posit ‘Easy A’ as a masterpiece, Stone et al raise it high above the usual multiplex level high school movie. And how could you fail to enjoy hearing a bookseller inform Our Heroine that the Bible is “in best-sellers – right next to ‘Twilight’”.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Sony. Colour.
92 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 10 Oct 2010