It is a well-established fact that when pre-judging the quality of a teen movie, you can make fair assumptions based on the actors playing the adult characters. Exhibit A: Mean Girls and its featuring of every great SNL player of the 2000s as parents to the various characters. Easy A has, in order of appearance, Thomas Haden Church, Malcolm Mcdowell, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow and Fred Armisen. It's like a Rogues Gallery of indie film Oscar winners! But none of that even matters compared to the show-stopping, scene-stealing, world conquering force that is Emma Stone.
Easy A's greatest strength is that it's not afraid to have a little fun. Take the early "Pocketful of Sunshine" scene, a bit of random silliness that shouldn't be funny, but really really is. Only because it's true. It's a peculiarity of Hollywood that filmmakers believe that when teenagers are alone in their rooms, all they do is stare dramatically at their ceilings or ponder their social lives and body image issues. But no. Sometimes we just dance like idiots to absolutely ridiculous songs without any shame or self-consciousness. (Another truth: normal girls who don't have social lives to speak of often have excellent relationships with their English teachers).
Olive, likewise, is not afraid to have fun, which is part of what makes her such a wonderful character. When a rumor runs amok, rather than go all mopey and philosophical about it, her Olive Penderghast throws herself straight into the fray, milking the recent rumors of her sluttiness for all they're worth. She's a great character; she doesn't get along with people her own age, but her defense is not open hostility, like so many outcast characters past. She protects herself with wit, humor and a healthy belief in her own superiority (which we, and she, gradually learn is fairly unjustified).
But from the beginning you can tell that she does what she does not because she's an opportunist (or at least not JUST because of that), but because on some level she thinks she's helping the downtrodden. So when things go inevitably wrong, it grows organically about of her growing discomfort with her fictional identity, which takes on a life of its own.
One thing I like about the movie is how important the adult characters are; we all know the silly trope that teen films and fiction exist in a void universe that adults cannot penetrate except as monsters or caricatures. But Olive is who she is because of her parents; it's clear that they gave her the confidence to do some things that are frankly insane. And there's an easy poetry about how her favorite teacher gets sucked into the story.
That said, the movie's not entirely perfect. There's a strange (but still funny) subplot about Olive searching for a higher power to give her a conscience, and the romance, while touching, is a bit shoehorned in. But hey, at least it doesn't drag. After all, it's a John Hughes homage at the end of the day, and you can't have that without a kiss at the end.
I know it's a little hyperbolic to say this based on one movie, but I don't think I'm wrong in saying that Emma Stone is going to be one of the great comedienne's of our time. She has an odd attraction that's not exactly classical. She's got a wonderful deep voice that hearkens back to the stars of the 1930s, not the high pitched teens that seem to have dominated for the past couple of decades. But unfortunately, her rocket ship is heading straight up into big Hollywood drama (she's the lead in the film version of The Help and in the new Spiderman reboot). But I bet she'll make a great Gwen Stacy.
Favorite scene: When Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci play a guessing game to find out which swear word got Olive sent to the principle.