Sharpening those pencils? Getting them nice and sharp?
Olive Pendergast (Emma Stone) begins Easy A by informing the viewer that “rumors of my promiscuity have been greatly exaggerated.” Olive is a bright, intelligent girl trapped in a dim, cruel world: high school. Certain adults in her life — her English teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church), and her parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson with the reckless glee that only movie parents can pull off — recognize Olive’s intelligence and know she will emerge intact into adulthood. Until that day, however, Olive is stuck with her best friend Rhiannon, who uses “bitch” as a term of endearment and says things to her like, “Now you’re a super slut like me,” and a group of judgmental Christian classmates led by Marianne, who direct their wrath at Olive after a rumor spreads that she lost her virginity. The rumor is false, but Olive plays it up for the sake of her friendship with Rhi. Soon, though, her gay friend Brandon approaches and asks Olive for a favor. Could she say, for his sake, that they slept together? Since, you know, she already has that reputation and all.
Cut to: Classic high school movie party scene where kids cannonball into pools, booze flows freely and curious gawkers gather at every keyhole to listen intently to the sounds of teenage hormones in overdrive on the other side of the door. Olive knows her audience and delivers a rousing, grunting, hilarious faux sexual performance (she and Brandon jump up and down on the bed, smacking the wall) before tucking a pair of underwear into his pocket and tussling his hair, sending him forth to the cheers and embraces of the same guys who previously ridiculed him, while Olive is left to stroll out a tramp, a hussy: a super slut.
The book Olive happens to be reading in Mr. Griffith’s class is, not so coincidentally, The Scarlet Letter, and Easy A is a clever, sharply written update (and at times rewrite) of Hawthorne’s classic. Once Olive does Brandon a favor, other guys begin to approach her — some gay, some simply unpopular, all in need of a reputation enhancement that Olive will, for the right price, provide. (Her price is gift cards. One exceedingly cheap and desperate suitor offers her a 20% coupon to Bath & Body Works.) Olive prides herself on not doing anything “half-assed,” so she begins dressing the part, embroidering a scarlet ‘A’ on outfits so provocative that they earn her the attention of the school guidance counselor (Lisa Kudrow), who has her own problems that Olive becomes entangled in.
We had zero expectations for this movie, aside from a recommendation from Ben’s brother Dan (who was so certain we would like it he gave it to Erin as a birthday gift). It had been a while since we watched a movie we had little intention of liking and found it so thoroughly likable. Stone plays Olive with witty, self-deprecating charm. The sequence early in the movie involving a “Pocketful of Sunshine” singing card instantly establishes Olive’s connection to her audience. With ironic nods to classic 80s movies, Easy A is very much a John Hughes film for the 2010s. You’re welcome to borrow our copy.