There are a lot of films these days exploring teen life in the digital age, and Easy A is no different -- utilizing iPhones, webcasting, and YouTube to tell the story of Olive's (Emma Stone) social experiment as a modern-day Hester Prynne, which manifests itself into a not-so-innocent reputation that spirals out of control. Stone has been good in supporting roles (Zombieland, Superbad), but in this lead role she really embraces her character, spouting out snappy pop-culture references and dissecting the absurdity of her peers. This kind of character can easily move too far into pretentious territory, but screenwriter Bert V. Royal manages to keep things light and fun. Easy A is loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlett Letter, with Olive sashaying around school wearing naughty negligees and donning a crimson "A" on her chest to prove a point. Despite the fact that the film veers away from making a statement about the hypocrisy of teenage sexuality, what makes this teen comedy different from most is its refreshingly witty sensibility.
The story starts when Olive lies to her best friend, Rhi (Alyson Michalka), and tells her that she lost the big V to a college student. The rumor spreads like wildfire, but instead of running from it, Olive embraces it and decides to use the opportunity as a social experiment. Taking things one step further, in exchange for money, she allows the boys in her school to tell people that she's slept with them. Olive sees it as a win-win situation, but what she didn't expect was that she'd get a rep as a "skanky slut" and be attacked by the chastity club, headed by zealot Marianne (Amanda Bynes).
There's a lot going on story-wise, perhaps a little too much, and it seems like Royal had a lot of false starts. There's a subplot with Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow as married educators who experience infidelity involving one of the students, but this storyline never really goes anywhere and only serves as a comedic plot device and a waste of really good actors. Also, Olive's budding relationship with Todd (Penn Badgley), her almost first kiss and would-be boyfriend, shows up at the most inappropriate moments, and you sort of forget that he's the only boy in school who likes Olive for who she is and not for her reputation. Those sins aside, Easy A is clearly a winner, and with Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson co-starring as Olive's über-liberal parents in some of the most memorable scenes, this film is not to be missed.