Thursday, September 30, 2010

Easy A: The Making of a Star

Easy A, the latest flavor of the month in the teen comedy genre, is a sassy gem, that knowingly touches on the topic of adolescent sexuality.  The pic can be afforded some distinction, for being the only pubsecent comedy in memory that dares to hang a lantern on a group of teens who actually aren't ready to have sex.  As a result, instead of horny, promiscuous, frat boys and sorority sisters we're presented with reconizably human characters that the movie makes us care about.  Director Will Gluck and writer Bert V. Royal probably won't win any Oscars for this subtle perspective shift, but it is cause for minor applause in our current market of gross-out comedies. 

The story follows Olive (Emma Stone), an easily recognizable girl-next-door, who goes to elaborate lengths to conceal her virginity.  In the process of weaving lies about her vainglorious sexual exploits, circumstances compound to make her the most popular and also the most reviled member of her high school.  It's only when Olive realizes how much she's sacrificed for her reputation, that she begin to understand who she really is.  The script is loosely inspired by Hawthorne's "The Scarlett Letter," but cleverness and source material aside, what really makes the movie worth talking about is Emma Stone. 

None of her past roles in projects like Superbad, The House Bunny, and Zombieland could prepare us for the performance she delivers here.  I was mystified. Surely there must have been a prolific career in Danish television or some other remote corner of the world, that I know nothing about. But no, she has simply arrived.  After several character roles performed in relative anonymity, Emma Stone has arrived.   This is a star-making performance, embodied with equal parts charisma, sass and vulnerability.  Even as her character suffers through a spectacular series of humiliations, Stone maintains that aura of mystery, confidence and unpredictability that characterizes a star.  Without her the movie would fail and she brings us onboard instantly.    Emma Stone will be someone to watch in the future.