Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder in Easy A, the rare teen sex romp without any actual sex. In fact, by the genre's raunchy standards, the flick is downright chaste, so squeaky clean it might be Sarah Palin's new fave rave, if the villain weren't a blond Bible-thumping prude played by overtanned Amanda Bynes, whose retirement was apparently premature.
The film is set in some topsy-turvy parallel reality where high school superhottie Olive, played by stone-cold fox Emma Stone (Zombieland), is a social pariah because she's just a bit of a snarky wiseass. Sure, whatevs. Anyhoo, brainy California girl Olive considers herself an outcast because she only has a few pals, actually likes homework, and hasn't been kissed, despite her best efforts. The pressure of this virginal burden is enough that she concocts a naughty fairy tale, involving a hookup with a college dude, while she was really in her room singing along to Natasha Bedingfield. Thanks to texting and unlimited data plans, this sultry rumor spreads quicker than hot Nutella, and Olive suddenly starts getting attention she couldn't dream of a week earlier, when "Google Earth couldn't find me if I dressed as a 10-story building."
An enterprising smarty-pants, Olive turns her newly scandalous rep into a business opportunity, falsifying sex acts with nerdy losers in exchange for cash, or preferably retail gift cards. In tribute to her Nathaniel Hawthorne English assignment, she plays up the hussy routine, cutting up a closetful of Frederick's corsets, and embroidering them with a big red "A."
Newly popular and flush with goodies, Olive is happy play-acting the town slut, right until the ruse starts to get out of hand.
Secretly she longs for an intense, '80s-style romantic lead, like John Cusack, Patrick Dempsey or Judd Nelson, a fact she illustrates with a video montage on her blog. This media hero worship is a running theme, as the movie proudly wraps itself in the John Hughes flag and runs with it. The script, by Bert V. Royal, is laden with self-conscious asides and pop culture winks, very funny, even as it veers into unbearable Diablo Cody-style glibness. So much tongue-in-cheekiness would wear you down if not for the comedic talents of the sassy Stone, who spits out witty dialogue like automatic gunfire. She's cuter than a stack of buttons, and if she's two steps ahead of the sometimes-smug material, it's a good sign that when she's ready to break out of her Jodie Foster Freaky Friday phase, she'll be a star. Anything else would be a real scandal.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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