In Superbad she bucked the boysy vibe, making a small role something bigger.
Then in Zombieland she refused to flinch under Woody Harrelson’s redneck glare.
As for The Rocker, The House Bunny and, uh, Marmaduke… clearly, the woman has paid her dues.
And so to Emma Stone’s first star vehicle, which she shoulders with charm, intelligence and a knowing glint in her eye.
True, this high-school comedy is ultimately lightweight stuff, squaring up to potentially tricky subjects (peer pressure, promiscuity, religion) before softly backing down.
Still, director Will Gluck’s movie radiates ambition and originality compared to the cheerleader-chasing idiocy of his debut Fired Up!
Stone plays Olive, a virginal misfit who has nothing to lose when a gay friend asks her to fake a sexual encounter with him to help ward off the bullies. Word of the deal gets out and she becomes, for want of a better phrase, the campus bike. Need a hetero bedroom story to boost your social status? Go speak to Olive.
In a comic spin on The Scarlet Letter (the kids study it in class), Olive stitches a red A (for “adulterer” in the book) to her chest and plays the part to the full. “You look like a hooker – but a high-class hooker, for statesmen or athletes,” says Stanley Tucci, giving terrifically laid-back face as our heroine’s dad.
Sardonic and showing plenty of thigh, Olive becomes an enemy of the state and the target of a prayer group of Christian zealots. Alongside the moral stand-off runs Olive’s search for a non-fake lover, plus subplots involving student-teacher relationships and, in an unexpected turn of events, herpes.
As fun as all this sounds, Easy A loses its way a little during these digressions. Wisely, Gluck seldom lets Stone out of the frame; she repays him with a performance that blends down-to-earth depth with star poise into an enormously watchable package.
With each passing scene, Gluck’s big claim that she’s the new Julia Roberts seems less lofty.
A strong idea that wanders out of focus in the second half. But it never falls apart thanks to Stone, making excellent on her early promise. Power to her.
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