The new film “Easy A” shatters the golden rule of teen comedies – don’t evoke the Hughes unless you can come close to measuring up to the Hughes.
And “Easy A” is but a shadow of an imprint of a Xerox from those ‘80 John Hughes comedies.
That’s hardly a sin, since most films can’t compete with Ferris, Ducky and the gang. But “Easy A” relentlessly reminds us of the Hughes canon with shout outs and direct references.
Not smart, even though the movie shrewdly casts the next Lindsay Lohan in the title role.
Emma Stone is Olive, a pretty high schooler whose best friend (Alyson Michalka, “Hellcats”) is obsessed with sex – like everyone else in their California ‘hood.
When Olive fibs about a romantic conquest, her alleged first, the social media world starts spinning out of control. She’s instantly branded “easy,” which complicates her life and draws the ire of the school Christians led by Amanda Bynes.
Her new status has consequences. A picked on gay teen asks for Olive to lie about them having a relationship to take the heat off of him, and other students reach to to her to improve their dating cred.
It’s all fodder for a timely teen comedy loosely based on “The Scarlet Letter,” but “Easy A” tries too hard to make it so. The screenplay by Bert V. Royal can’t be bothered to see the characters as flesh and blood types – they’re all vehicles for either humor or crude stereotypes. Consider Olive’s parents, played by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci. They start out as noble parents whose kid is so good they don’t have a clue how to punish her when she misbehaves.
Later, they’re relegated to easy sexual jokes and show themselves to be completely unaware of their daughter’s plight.
It’s hard to imagine Christians getting worse treatment than they get here. Bynes’ character is ugly to the core, and her gaggle of self-righteous friends, dubbed Jesus Freaks, are equally foul. “Saved!” is practically a religious training film by comparison. Faith-based viewers take it on the chin elsewhere, from the guidance counselor (a wasted Lisa Kudrow) pressing condoms into Olive’s hand to a pastor (Fred Armisen) leering at porn.
Stone remains on the cusp of stardom despite “Easy A,” her husky voice and endearing screen presence undiminished here. Even she wears out her welcome mid-film, the precise time it becomes clear the film has nothing left to say.
“Easy A” evokes “The Breakfast Club,” “Say Anything” and other iconic teen comedies, smirking at the notion it will one day stand tall next to them. The folks behind the film deserve a round of Saturday detention for daring to think such thoughts.
(Photo: Emma Stone shines as a troubled teen in “Easy A,” a movie poking fun at high school culture. Screen Gems)