Easy AOverview -
Easy A is a frothy, fizzy, and funny romantic comedy for teens--and adults will love it too. Not since Clueless has a high-school heroine been able to delight both audiences, and Easy A's Olive (the sparkling Emma Stone) is a stellar young star. But Easy A benefits from a great script by writer Bert V. Royal and assured direction by TV veteran Will Gluck. Olive is a smart girl happy to stay in the shadows of high school, until her good friend, Brandon (Dan Byrd), who's gay, begs her to pretend to have sex with him so the rest of the school will stop picking on him. She obliges, but soon she picks up not one but two reputations--as the girl who sleeps around, and, on the down-low, as the girl who'll pretend to sleep with a guy so he won't be branded a virgin. Soon Easy A's complications pile up higher than the entrance of Olive's high school, and her two story lines, neither of which reflects the real Olive, take on lives of their own. There are backlashes and blacklists and repercussions galore. "I always thought pretending to lose my virginity would feel a little more special," muses Olive. "Judy Blume should have prepared me for that." Stone is accompanied by a strong supporting cast: Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her bemused parents, Gossip Girl's dreamy Penn Badgley, the freshly unretired Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Lisa Kudrow, and Malcolm McDowell. And it's to the cast's and the writer's credit that the audience is kept engaged, and guessing, till the very end. Easy A should be awarded exactly that. --A.T. Hurley
Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take
If more teen comedies were like Will Gluck's 'Easy A,' I would probably make more of an effort to watch them. But as it stands, the genre is one constant raunchy misfire after another. They are nowhere nearly as clever and witty and with characters we genuinely care for or wish to see on screen. 'Easy A' is a fresh breadth of air amongst a repugnant swarm of lame vulgarity. This is the sort of high school farce I imagine the late John Hughes would have proudly directed. As matter of fact, the movie even takes a quick, reflective moment to mention a wistful longing for those 80s flicks and adds 'Say Anything' and 'Can't Buy Me Love' into the mix while throwing together several other nods throughout.
For anybody with fond memories of those four years and the rest of us wanting to forget them, the film is easily relatable with one crucial — sometimes, mortifying — experience of adolescence: the rumor. The ways they start, spread, and grow into a monster that only ends up labeling a person. And this is the part of the story which ranks the pic much smarter that I could have anticipated. Once the gossip spreads, like "wildfire" as Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) points out, it's very difficult to stop or control it. Eventually, kids use such information — whether they're true or not — for judging the victim of the rumor. As Olive's BFF, Rhi (Alyson Michalka), puts it, they become identifiers for singling kids out.
I'm convinced Olive has — or at least, the filmmakers have — definitely read The Scarlet Letter because that's pretty much at the heart of that mid-19th Century tale. And 'Easy A' is essentially a kind of, sort of, not really, but vague retelling of Nathaniel Hawthorne's classic novel. Olive goes so far as to embroider a big, red "A" on her smuttier outfits so as to proudly display the scandalous chatter surrounding her identifier. Unfortunately, what starts as a simple favor to improve the reputation of a fellow student that's bullied on a daily basis backfires on poor Olive. And she's quickly ostracized, thanks to the local religious freak, Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes), who makes it her divine mission to banish Olive.
Of course, this being a light comedy, things always turn around in the end. But Will Gluck ('Fired Up') does a fine job at bringing it all together fluidly and amusingly rather than feeling forced or overly schmaltzy. Then again, it doesn't hurt that 'Easy A' is a star vehicle for the very funny and talented Emma Stone. She's absolutely adorable in the role of a young girl learning that even the best of intentions can go horribly awry. After playing co-star to the likes of Matthew McConaughey ('Ghosts of Girlfriends Past') and Woody Harrelson ('Zombieland'), Stone is put in the lead and proves herself a real star, carrying the entire film much like her character endures the harmful gossip of other classmates.
Ms. Stone is also surrounded by a great supporting adult cast, with some of the funniest moments provided by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive's parents. Thomas Haden Church ('Sideways') offers a couple comedic scenes, but is surprisingly overshadowed by the hilarious few minutes with Malcolm McDowell as the school principal. In the end, 'Easy A' is the sort of teen flick many in the genre should be striving for but we see very little of. It's a terrific starring turn by the wonderful Emma Stone and an immensely funny film for those who miss the John Hughes heyday of clever, heartfelt teen comedies.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings 'Easy A' to Blu-ray on a Region Free, BD50 disc and housed in the standard blue keepcase. At startup, viewers are greeted by a Sony Playstation 3 promo and a slew of previews for 'The Social Network,' 'Burlesque,' 'Beastly,' and 'Nowhere Boy.' Once over, the screen changes to the typical menu selection while showing full-motion captures and stills from the movie.
'Easy A' debuts to Blu-ray with great marks, though it falls a bit short of perfection. Its strongest area is in squeaky-clean resolution and sharp clarity, the sort of quality we'd expect from a freshly-minted transfer. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode (1.85:1) shows excellent fine object and textural details, making small background info plainly visible and exposing every crease and stitching in Olive's slutty outfits. The color palette is precisely what's expected of a romantic comedy — vibrant and full of energy. Greens and reds are particularly bold although the video shows a warm yellow push. Facial complexions appear natural and healthy, revealing pores and the tiniest features in close-ups.
The one aspect needing some improvement is in brightness levels. Blacks are generally deep and accurate for the majority of the movie's runtime. However, there are several moments when they suddenly falter and the darker portions go a dark murky gray. Contrast is well balanced and crisp for the most part, but it also fluctuates somewhat from scene to scene and whites can unexpectedly bloom. This isn't a wholly distracting or damaging issue and shadow details remain strong throughout. But it's a noticeable effect that tends to flatten the image. All things considered, this is still a great presentation for a great comedy.
The teen romcom also comes with an audio presentation that's just as good and enjoyable as the video. The DTS-HD Master Audio track displays a spacious and welcoming front soundstage, full of warmth and excellent fidelity detail. Channel separation is nicely balanced with a clear, sharp mid-range, and dialogue is intelligibly lucid throughout. Imaging is terrific and engaging with several good instances of smooth pans and subtle ambient effects convincingly heard off-screen. Music and song selections make the best use of the rears, however, filling the entire room with some trendy tunes and enhancing the soundfield satisfyingly. Low bass during these same moments is effectively deep and responsive. Overall, this lossless mix of 'Easy A' adds another charming level to an entertaining comedy.
Sony releases 'Easy A' day-and-date with its standard definition counterpart and the same set of bonus features. It's a fun and entertaining collection fans can enjoy when the movie is over.
- Audio Commentary — Maybe it has something to do with the friendly chatter between director Will Gluck and Emma Stone, who suddenly decide to inform us half-hour into it when and where the commentary was recorded, but I found the track to be a fun and enjoyable listen. The conversation is full of quick jabs at each other, the movie and the cast while also throwing in some amusing anecdotes. Some of the comments are also revealing and interesting about the production and shooting on location. Overall, it's a humorous chat worth checking out if you like the movie.
- Emma Stone Audition Footage (SD, 19 min) — This is a collection of six short videos showing the young actress reading different lines of the script.
- Gag Reel (SD, 5 min) — Typical line flubs and on-set shenanigans mixed in with a few dirty jokes make up the bulk of this section.
Finally taking center stage and proving she can carry an entire film, Emma Stone stars in 'Easy A,' a story about high school gossip and the damage they create. Getting a clue from the teen comedies of the 80s, this vague, modernized retelling of The Scarlet Letter is a very funny and highly entertaining flick. The Blu-ray arrives with an excellent audio and video presentation while the supplemental collection is strong and satisfying. Fans will be greatly pleased with the overall package and is worth a rental when in the mood for a good comedy.
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