Saturday, January 22, 2011

Easy A

The Teen comedy drama has been defined by B-grade movie stinkers like the never-ending, ‘American Pie’ series of films, the equally horrible, ‘Euro Trip’ and a long list of other fishy entries that don’t give the genre any real sense of legitimacy. But, every now and then (more not than often), a film comes along that gives me new hope for a possible re-invention of the genre’s worn and stereotypical trademarks.

Easy A, starring the relatively unknown, Emma Stone (Superbad and Zombieland) is one of those rare Teen Comedy/Dramas that isn’t afraid to be clever, even if it is at the expense of its intended audience. So, what exactly makes ‘Easy A’ different than something like American Pie? The answer does not lie in the range of subjects covered, but rather in the way these subjects are presented and portrayed. Whilst most Teen movies settle for the effective ‘Slap stick’ comedy approach, Easy A isn’t afraid to take a deeper look at the lives of typical teenagers, focussing more on the ‘why’ of their actions, instead of the ‘how’. The film tackles some quite serious issues head-on like religion, sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, inappropriate relations between pupils and teachers and a long list of other touchy subjects in a very honest manner... something most Teen movies would never dare attempt.

'Easy A isn’t afraid to take a deeper look at the lives of typical teenagers, focussing more on the ‘why’ of their actions, instead of the ‘how’.'

Except for its obvious focus on 'the things not mentioned', Easy A also benefits from an interesting and unpredictable plot, as Director Will Gluck doesn't hesitate to introduce new characters, central to the plot even long after the halfway mark. Whilst this does work wonders for the film's sense of engagement, it does subtract quite a bit from a definite sense of emotional impact, seeing how one gets the feeling that too much is going on all at once – even though this is how the life of a teenager typically presents itself.

Nevertheless, a strong cast of capable young movie heavyweights have been assembled to deliver the film's delicious off-beat comedic moments as well as more serious ones. Protagonist Emma Stone is perfectly cast as a teenager caught in a web of her own lies, playing her lost, but crazily funny role good enough to get some award mentions. Amanda Bynes (What a girl wants) plays the very 'spiritual' antagonist quite well, ensuring for some of the film's best comedic moments along with her rival in the film. Other strong performances include those from love interest, Penn Badgley (Gossip Girls), Dan Byrd (The Hills have eyes), Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spiderman) and the film's funniest and weirdest character, Patricia Clarkson (Good night and good luck, Shutter Island), as one of the protagonist's off-beat parental figures.

Fans of similar riskier teen movies, like 'Saved!' and 'Mean Girls' will find a lot to laugh about and appreciate in this rare mainstream gem. Not only does the film feel creepily relevant, but it should also hit home for both teenagers as well as older audience members, as they get the chance to take a hard look at their days as a confused teen. But don't stress, 'Easy A' is more about fun than anything else, so don't let the very direct approach put you off from this really hilarious addition to the Teen movie DVD shelf.

The start of one of the many 'love connections' in the film...
Highlight: In my opinion, an electronic greeting card, that plays a well-known song of Natasha Beddingfield serves for the best series of jokes of the entire film.

Rating: 4 Meerkat Tails