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Originally published Thursday, September 16, 2010 at 3:19 PM

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Movie review

'Easy A': A teen sex comedy following in 'Juno's' footsteps

A review of "Easy A," a winning comedy about the sex lives (not!) of teens, starring Emma Stone.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Easy A,' with Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Stanley Tucci, Malcolm MacDowell. Directed by Will Gluck, from a screenplay by Bert V. Royal. 90 minutes. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements including teen sexuality, language and some drug material. Several theaters.

Following (sometimes a tad too obviously) in the footsteps of "Juno," "Easy A" is the tale of a charmingly sardonic high-school girl (Emma Stone) with a sex-related problem. Unlike Juno, Olive is a virgin, but nobody at school knows it: After jokingly exaggerating her weekend's romantic activities to a friend, rumors of Olive's promiscuity zip around the school like urgent butterflies. Though none of them are true, Olive decides to embrace the rumors, with an entrepreneurial twist: She agrees to let a closeted gay friend say he's had sex with her, and soon is selling her "favors" to give bragging rights to unpopular boys, in exchange for gifts.

Bert V. Royal's screenplay has a funny idea at its root, as well as a literary one: Olive's English class is studying "The Scarlet Letter," which soon comes to have uncomfortable parallels to Olive's life. (Her English teacher urges the class to read the book rather than watching "the Demi Moore movie where she takes a lot of baths.") There's plenty of snappy teen-speak dialogue, and the cast is strong: Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci (a team made in heaven) as Olive's almost-too-understanding parents; Thomas Haden Church as the English teacher; Lisa Kudrow as a stressed-out guidance counselor; Amanda Bynes as Olive's nemesis, the squeaky-clean and very judgmental Marianne.

But though the talented Stone shows off some sharp comic timing, it's hard to accept this smart, gorgeous young woman as a school misfit yearning for popularity, and "Easy A" isn't always funny enough to make up for its implausibilities. Nonetheless, those looking for a "Juno"-esque high-school-comedy fix will find plenty to enjoy here. "I always thought that pretending to lose my virginity would be a little more special," sighs Olive, as her troubles multiply; just try to resist a giggle.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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