This is Olive (Emma Stone), and she has quite a story to tell, so she's relaying it through the medium of mass communication that is the internet. She has a reputation, you see, and it's really through no fault of her own no matter what you may have heard. It all started a few weeks ago when she made up a lie to her best friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) that she couldn't go camping with her, mainly because she was not so keen on her hippy parents, but she had to go and invent the excuse that she had a date, didn't she? Big mistake, because the following Monday, Rhiannon was determined to find out if anything happened - anything... you know...
What Easy A wanted to hark back to was the eighties teen comedies that writer Bert V. Royal and director Will Gluck nostalgically recalled from their own teenage years - that's right, we were in John Hughes homage territory once again. But what they came up with was actually an improvement on the would-be wacky but actually surprisingly conservative Hughes style, as it was also an update of the old school text "favourite" The Scarlet Letter, which offered what could have been throwaway teen fluff far more depth than perhaps anyone really needed, which had audiences divided into those who thought it was too smart and farfetched for its own good, and those who didn't think that was such a bad thing.
Gluck assembled a formidable cast who were seasoned enough to know precisely how to play this material, from the older generation - Malcolm McDowell of all people turned up as the high school principal - to the younger as Amanda Bynes, no stranger to fluffy movies herself, took the role of Olive's sort of nemesis, Marianne. It is she who overhears the girl lying to Rhiannon that she lost her virginity to this fictional one night stand, and being a fundamentalist Christian, you can imagine how Marianne feels about that - not best pleased. Soon the rumours have spread around the school that our heroine is, frankly, a slut, and so infectious are these stories that she cannot think of what to do about them.
This gets more complicated when her gay friend Brandon (Dan Byrd) asks her for a favour: he is being bullied about his orientation, and pleads with Olive to pretend that they had sex so that the heat is taken off him for a while, at least until they graduate. Thinking what has she got to lose, she sets up a prank at a party to convince everyone they're totally doin' it, and soon her bad reputation is spreading like wildfire, good for Brandon, not so good for her. Making the point that people prefer to believe the gossip that reflects the worst on the victim, the film is clear-eyed about the damage such stories are doing to Olive, even when she takes this situation with both hands and embraces it.
So being the school skank, despite being a virgin, is a part she does her best to live up to by posing as the easy lay of all the aspirational waifs and strays of the place, in return for frankly not very impressive favours (we have to see that this isn't really worth it for her). This may grow more serious, but the wit does not let up, and although Olive starts having a rough time of it thanks to some cruel twists and the type of sour human nature that will always let you down, we are rewarded with the laughs, but more importantly, those characters who do not give in to the majority view and see the lies for what they are. So what could have been down on the whole lot of them actually singles out the kinder members of society (including Olive's ever-understanding parents, peerlessly played by Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) as a reason for not giving up on us just yet. It may be hard being an outcast, says Easy A, but find yourself someone to love you and you'll be all right eventually. Yeah, typical Hollywood stardust, but that cynical bite and Stone's terrific performance sell it. Music by Brad Segal.