Do kids today even know who John Cusack is? I sure hope not, since they’re more likely to have seen Hot Tub Time Machine than Say Anything . And yet it’s a question I have to ask apropos of Easy A, a film ostensibly about the sexting generation but so thick with allusions to the youth culture of the 1980s it actually seems pitched to the Gen X parents in the audience.
In Easy A , Emma Stone (Superbad, The House Bunny, Zombieland ), a young actress whose husky voice is as preternatural as her timing, finally gets her star turn. She’s Olive, an ironical teen bored enough with unpopularity so as to spread rumors about herself with the goal of acquiring a reputation. It’s a nasty little premise—in one early scene, Olive pretends to bang a classmate’s brains out at a kegger—and Will Gluck, who directed last year’s underrated and equally raunchy Fired Up! , runs with it. He’s abetted capably by Stone holding her own against Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as her oversharing, totally with-it California cool parents.
But as satires of born again piety go, Easy A is no Saved! Which is another way of saying that Amanda Bynes, cast as Olive’s New Testament-toting nemesis, has nothing on Mandy Moore. In striving to be a throwback John Hughes clone, an update of The Scarlett Letter , and tres Juno , all at once, Easy A is too broad in its humor, too reliant on its quotation of other films, to have an identity of its own.
Opens September 17