Easy A

There’s a long tradition of movies that start with a lie that spins out of control, from 1961’s The Children’s Hour (my teachers are lesbians!) to this year’s Yardie (I do know how to direct a film!).

This 2010 comedy stars Emma Stone as high school student Olive, who lies about losing her virginity because it’s better than admitting she stayed home all weekend dancing to Natasha Bedingfield – which makes the film seem even older than The Children’s Hour.

Rumours of Olive’s sluttiness spread like nobody’s business, which it is. She enjoys her new-found notoriety, then realises it’s not worth it and gets the guy at the end. Sorry to spoil it like that but you needn’t be a Grade A student to work out where it’s heading, nor does it matter particularly. The movie works because Olive is witty and likeable, the kind of Cher Horowitz-style hero we see as seldom as Alicia Silverstone.

Writer Bert V. Royal has clearly seen a lot of teen movies – so much so that the V probably stands for Very. So he knows how to write smart high school dialogue and how to subtly subvert the genre, but does neither to the level of Mean Girls – and the romantic subplot adds nothing at all to the story. But where Mean Girls would have worked without Lindsay Lohan, this probably wouldn’t without Emma Stone.

Supporting roles are filled by a strong comedy cast, including Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell and Stanley Tucci – although having recently watched Sharp Objects (or as my brain insists on calling it, Sharper Things) Patricia Clarkson playing Olive’s mother made me very nervous indeed.

In Ofsted terms Easy A is good rather than outstanding, but its message is valuable: that the only thing harder than being yourself is not being yourself.

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