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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Will Gluck
Cast:
Emma Stone, Stanley Tucci, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Dan Byrd, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell
Writing Credits:
Bert V. Royal

Tagline:
Let's not and say we did.

Synopsis:
In this charming, critically acclaimed tale of rumors and reputation, Olive (Emma Stone), an average high school student, sees her below-the-radar existence turn around overnight once she decides to use the school's gossip grapevine to advance her social standing. Now her classmates (Amanda Bynes, Aly Michalka) are turning against her and the school board is becoming concerned, including her favorite teacher (Thomas Haden Church) and the distracted guidance counselor (Lisa Kudrow). With the support of her hilariously idiosyncratic parents (Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson) and a little help from a long-time crush (Penn Badgley), Olive attempts to take on her notorious new identity and crush the rumor mill once and for all.

Box Office:
Budget
$8 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.734 million on 2856 screens.
Domestic Gross
$58.272 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
English Descriptive Audio Service
Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
French
Spanish
Portuguese

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $34.95
Release Date: 12/21/2010

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Will Gluck and Actor Emma Stone
• Trivia Track
• “The Making of Easy A” Featurette
• “Vocabulary of Hilarity” Featurette
• “The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Emma Stone Audition Footage
• Previews


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Easy A [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 22, 2010)

For a modern update on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 19th century classic The Scarlet Letter, we head to 2010’s Easy A. Teen Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) lies to her friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) to get out of a camping weekend. She claims she can’t spend that time with her pal because she has a date with a community college student named George.

When they discuss the fictitious date, Rhiannon believes that Olive lost her virginity. Olive argues this at first but decides to go along with the ruse. This changes her social status from Anonymous to Campus Slut. Enchanted with her rise up the ladder, Olive embraces the shift – for a while, at least.

Her infamy doesn’t go away, though, and she finds herself faced with an unusual request. Barely closeted gay classmate Brandon (Dan Byrd) asks her to pretend to have sex with her so he can maintain an illusion of heterosexuality.

This makes her even more of a scandalous figure and disrupts her friendship with Rhiannon. Olive figures if she’s gonna do the time, she might as well do the time – sort of, at least. She doesn’t actually become a slut, but she dresses like one, embroiders scarlet “A”s on her newly-slutty wardrobe, and lets boys pay her to pretend get it on with her. We see how her life as a fake bimbo progresses and affects others.

Easy A tends to wear its influences on its sleeve, sometimes in obvious ways – like a visual reference to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off - and some more obscure. The film often refers to 80s teen comedies and clearly aspires to follow that model.

The flick walks a fine line between affectionate homage and parody, and it’s never particularly clear down which path it prefers to go. It does act as a self-knowing nod to those flicks, but it avoids conventional spoof status.

Which may or may not be a good thing. Granted, 100 percent parodies like Not Another Teen Movie tend to suck, so I doubt that a standard spoof would be good. The self-referential side of Easy A keeps it from becoming Just Another Teen Movie itself.

But not heavily so, especially in the film’s second half. The movie definitely works best during its initial 45 minutes or so, as it starts to falter when it gets more dramatic. During the segments that focus on Olive and her antics, we encounter a bright, fun ride. Thought not quite as barbed, the movie takes on an edgy Election feel in these stages.

And then it starts to lean toward the sappy side of the street. It never fully embraces the melodrama inherent to the genre, but it comes a little too close for comfort. That tendency threatens to rob the film of its peppy irreverence.

I must admit that the inherent premise perplexes. The film makes it sound like a sexually active teenager is something unusual and provocative. This makes no sense. In this day and age – or even in my long-ago day and age - a sexually inactive teenager is probably a rarer occurrence.

This seems especially true for a teenager as attractive as Stone, which leads me to another complaint: how can a girl as hot as she be viewed as invisible to the opposite sex? Only in Hollywood would babes like Stone and Michalka land in “teen outcast” territory. (Granted, the movie never clearly brands Rhiannon as ignored by boys, but it does seem to lump them in together in most ways, so it seems natural to view her as an outsider as well.)

Again, it’s possible that the notion of lovely Stone as Plain Girl intends to mock Hollywood; plenty of movies feature attractive women we’re meant to see as bland or unappealing. However, I don’t get that sense from Easy A; I suspect we really are supposed to accept sexy Olive as a nothing on the prospective dating scene, and that makes no sense.

When Easy A works, it almost always does so due to its excellent cast, and Stone heads that list. I don’t know where her career will go from here – well, other than a lead in the 2012 Spider-Man reboot – but this film clearly demonstrates her capacity as a comedic lead. She makes Olive delightful and charming, and she almost allows us to view her as the social outcast she’s supposed to be; no, she doesn’t quite pull this off, but she’s so likable that we’re almost willing to accept whatever she tells us.

You’ll certainly find plenty of talent in the supporting cast. We locate three Oscar nominees – Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci – as well as notables like Lisa Kudrow and Malcolm McDowell. I don’t like the characters played by Tucci and Clarkson, as their super-hip, friendly parents irritate, but the actors themselves almost make their roles palatable. Others - especially Church – lend heft to small parts.

Easy A certainly has a lot going for it, and it often succeeds. It sags too much as it progresses, though, and that keeps it from the consistency I’d like to see. This is an enjoyable movie, though, and its fine cast means we’ll stick with it until the end.

Weird line alert: when Olive claims that her fictitious college date is named “George”, Rhiannon claims that there’s no such thing as a sexy George. Seriously? These girls never heard of Clooney? And what about earlier handsome Georges like Peppard and Hamilton? Granted, it’s doubtful teen girls would know about them, but I don’t see how they can ignore Clooney!


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Easy A appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This turned into a consistently strong presentation.

At no point did any concerns with sharpness materialize. From start to finish, the movie featured concise, accurate elements. I saw no jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to create concerns, as the movie was free from defects.

In terms of colors, the film went with a generally natural palette that added a mild golden tint. Overall, the hues looked quite good, as the movie boasted lively, full tones. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows showed fine clarity and delineation. Overall, this was a very satisfying transfer.

I thought that the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Easy A seemed fine but it didn’t excel because of a lack of ambition. Like most comedies, the movie featured a limited soundfield that strongly favored the forward channels. It showed nice stereo spread to the music as well as some general ambience from the sides.

Panning was decent, and the surrounds usually kicked in basic reinforcement. A few scenes opened up better, though, especially at parties; those opened up a bit. However, most of the movie stayed with limited imaging.

Audio quality appeared good. Speech was natural and distinct, with no issues related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects sounded clean and accurate, with good fidelity and no signs of distortion. Music was perfectly fine, as the score and songs showed positive dimensionality. This track was good enough for a “B-“ but didn’t particularly impress.

We get a good set of extras here. These start with Extra Credit: Pop-Up Trivia Track. It delivers text about background elements, cast and filmmakers, aspects of the shoot, and connected details. The tidbits show up frequently enough to keep us with the track, though they could be sparser than I’d like. Still, they present some fun facts and ensure that “Extra Credit” is worth a look; it’s unobtrusive enough to activate as you watch the movie.

We also find an audio commentary from director Will Gluck and actor Emma Stone. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, sets and locations, shooting digitally, music, and various trivia from the set.

What you won’t get from this track: a lot of deep insights about the production. What you will get: a pretty fun, loose chat. Along the way, we do get some decent notes related to the flick, but the most enjoyment stems from the manner in which Stone and Gluck interact with each other, as they create a light, sarcastic vibe. It’s not the most informative piece I’ve heard, but it’s entertaining.

Three featurettes follow. The Making of Easy A goes for 14 minutes, 35 seconds and includes remarks from Gluck, Stone, writer Bert V. Royal, producer Zanne Devine, and actors Thomas Haden Church, Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, Malcolm McDowell, Penn Badgley, Dan Byrd, and Aly Michalka. The show looks at story, characters and script, casting and performances, sets and locations, Gluck’s impact on the production and thoughts about Stone. “Making” features a fair amount of happy talk as well as some info encountered in the commentary and/or trivia track. Nonetheless, it proves to be enjoyable. We learn enough in this peppy piece to make it worth a look.

During the five-minute, one-second Vocabulary of Hilarity, we hear from Church, Michalka, Gluck, Stone, Royal, Devine, Tucci, Badgley, and Byrd. They talk about the film’s dialogue and related concerns such as the flick’s rating. This becomes a pretty informative little piece that runs through the movie’s language – some real, some madeup – in a fun way.

For a look at inspirations, we go to The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties. It lasts five minutes, eight seconds and features Byrd, Gluck, Church, Royal, Stone, and Badgley. The program tells us about the influences and its attempts to emulate/pay homage to them. It’s okay, but I hoped for more specifics than what we find in this fairly general piece.

A Gag Reel occupies five minutes, 21 seconds. It delivers the usual mistakes and laughs from cast and crew. Nothing terrific appears, though it’s kind of amusing to see Stone bicker with Gluck on occasion.

Finally, we find some Emma Stone Audition Footage. The reel goes for 19 minutes, 19 seconds and covers six scenes. Most of these offer traditional tryout material, while one shows self-shot “webcam” bits. All are cool to see.

At the start of the disc, we find ads for The Social Network, Burlesque, Nowhere Boy and Beastly. These also appear under Previews along with promos for Salt, How Do You Know, The Other Guys, Tamara Drewe, Eat Pray Love, and The House Bunny. No trailer for Easy A appears here.

Though it doesn’t fire on all cylinders, Easy A has enough going for it to make it enjoyable. Much of the pleasure comes from a solid cast; they add real punch to the film. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, decent audio, and a collection of generally useful supplements. Easy A offers a genial, amusing teen comedy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 6
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main