Friday, September 17, 2010

High school drama, in the Twitter age

“Easy A”

Three stars

By Thomas Tracy

It’s hard to have a teenage romantic comedy about — gasp — virginity resonate with someone who hasn’t walked through a high school in 20 years, but “Easy A” — out today — makes it look well...easy.

Thanks to a whip smart script and a tip of the hat to the high school dramedys of John Hughes, director Will Gluck manages to make a story about losing one’s virginity accessible to more than giggling 13-year-old girls and overheated sophomores praying to get beyond second base.

But, hey, there’s plenty for that crowd, too.

The rest of us will be pleasantly surprised by “Superbad’s” Emma Stone, who manages to ascend from typical teeny-bopperdom to salaciously sexy seductress as Olive Penderghast, whose one lie about losing her V-card becomes e-mail, Twitter and Facebook fodder for her fellow horny high schoolers.

Olive had a reason to lie — she didn’t want to spend the weekend with her best friend’s parents, who happen to be granola-crunching nudists — but she soon finds herself branded a bad girl much like Hester Prynne from “The Scarlet Letter.”

The connections don’t end there, even though literature buffs will hope they did.

The repressed 17th century town of Boston forced poor Hester to wear a red “A” as penance for her adultery, but Olive begins wearing one as a badge of honor — on a high school wardrobe that’s so white hot it should’ve melted her mother’s credit card, mind you — even though she doesn’t sleep with anyone.

Screenwriter Bert V. Royal enjoys taking hysterical swipes at the school’s God squad, who lead the charge in crucifying Olive, a modern-day version of the puritanical na’er-do-well’s Hester dealt with.

He also gleefully takes the time to make fun of Facebook, Twitter and any other social network, both carbon- and silicon-based, that can infect everyone with a rumor — no matter how baseless — faster than laughing gas on a packed subway car.

Yet Stone doesn’t do all this heavy lifting alone. She’s joined by some very funny adult accompaniment beginning with Thomas Hayden Church (“Sideways”), who proves that even the corniest high school teacher can be hip, and the double laugh-fest known as Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones”) and Patricia Clarkson (“Shutter Island”), who steal every scene as Olive’s amazingly modern parents.

The only flat performance comes from Lisa Kudrow (“The Comeback”), who only proves that Phoebe Buffay from “Friends” — the only role she knows how to play — shouldn’t be a school counselor.

“Easy A.” Starring Emma Stone, Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. Directed by Will Gluck. Running time: 93 minutes. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material.


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