Emma Stone makes the grade in Easy A
Film of the Week: Latest Spider-Man squeeze earns top marks for teen comedy
Teenage boys in the late Noughties enjoyed a spate of films pitched at them by director Judd Apatow and friends, but a good female-focused film from the same school of comedy has been sorely lacking.
Now Easy A, which opens in Britain this Friday, is being tipped as that film - the equivalent of Clueless or Mean Girls for the new generation. The smart high school comedy also showcases the talents of its lead, Emma Stone, in what is being billed as a career-making performance.
Like all classic teen comedies, Easy A deals with popularity. Stone plays Olive, a clever, attractive and funny student who falls somewhere between the losers and the in-crowd. Olive is also a virgin but, when a white lie about sleeping with a college boy goes viral, her social standing is suddenly changed.
While Clueless was a clever pastiche of Jane Austen's Emma, Easy A is based - albeit more loosely - on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter which the students are studying. While Hawthorne’s heroine, Hester Prynne, bears her scarlett letter for adultery with shame, Olive, a good girl pretending to be bad, adopts it as a badge of honour.
Easy A may not be quite as sharp and biting as Clueless but it does feature a terrific comic performance from the 21-year-old actress Stone. The New York Times called Stone's portrayal of Olive "the best of its type since Alicia Silverstone’s star turn several high school generations ago".
Stone’s first film role was in 2007's Superbad, playing Jonah Hill's love interest. It was a minor role but she dominated her scenes with her poise and good looks.
Since then she has gone on to act opposite Justin Timberlake in the forthcoming Friends with Benefits and featured in 2009's horror comedy Zombieland. She is also set to appear with Hill again in 21 Jump Street - based on the 1980s TV show starring Johnny Depp.
Earlier this month it was announced that Stone had won the female lead role in 2012's Spider-Man 'reboot', playing tragic student Gwen Stacy opposite the new Spider-Man, Britain's Andrew Garfield. Stone now looks set for A-list stardom.
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
Anna Smith, Time Out: "An amusing exploration of high school life ensues, but this is broader: Olive has a maturity that makes her relatable to older women, too. Stone gives a terrific performance, her knowing drawl implying intellect and indifference with underlying warmth."
Stephen Holding, the New York Times: "Whatever else it accomplishes, the sassy high school comedy Easy A commands attention for the irresistible presence of Emma Stone."
Chris Hewitt, Empire: "Olive is the perfect vehicle for [Emma Stone], affording her the opportunity to do a little bit of just about everything, including pieces to camera, a song-and-dance number and a transformation from plain Jane to sultry vixen that, for once, doesn’t seem forced."