Who's In It: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Patricia Clarkson, Amanda Bynes, Stanley Tucci, Dan Byrd, Thomas Haden Church, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Aly Michalka, Fred Armisen, Malcolm McDowell
The Basics: Smart and sassy Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is all but invisible in her small town Southern California high school -- until the day a tiny fib to her best friend (Aly Michalka) catches the rumor mill by storm and turns her into an overnight slutty sensation. At first, the secretly virginal Olive revels in the newfound attention, helping her nerdy classmates bump their own reps with more fabricated hook-ups. When her empire of lies begins to weigh on Olive's sanity (and her social life), she decides to tell the truth, the 21st century way: via webcam!
What's The Deal: As a teen comedy successor to films like Mean Girls, the sunny Easy A packs less of a punch but will leave a smile on your face thanks mostly to its irrepressible star, Emma Stone. Her Olive is the sort of heroine we loved in the '80s, a plucky and intelligent teen whose awesomeness inexplicably goes unnoticed by the popular kids and who winds up a champion of the geeky and awkward simply because she believes in herself. Stone proves her ability to carry a movie solo, appearing in just about every scene and narrating the rest, often filling the screen entirely by herself in "webcam" confessionals. With any other young starlet in the role this could have been disastrous, especially given the line between innocence and racy knowingness that the film dances, but Stone's charisma weathers the inevitable dramatic turns, sells her preternaturally mature character, and makes the script's snarky, pop culture-referencing dialogue snap.
What You Won't Get From Easy A: Sex. It's a PG-13 affair all the way and sex is only ever faked, talked about, lied about, whispered about, and condemned loudly (and comically) by a band of evangelical Christian teens led by Amanda Byrnes. Statutory rape, STDs, and adultery also come up, but Easy A is truly no more scandalous than The Scarlet Letter, from which the film draws inspiration.
Wait A Second, Who's Emma Stone? If you've seen The Rocker, The House Bunny, Superbad, or Zombieland, then 21 year-old Emma Stone and her special brand of wit, beauty, and bawdy earthiness should already be on your radar. She brings it to just about every role she plays, often holding her own against seasoned veterans (Woody Harrelson, Anna Faris, Rainn Wilson, and in Easy A, Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci) and heralded newbies (Jonah Hill, Jesse Eisenberg) alike. She's like the smoky-voiced Lucille Ball of her generation. Also fun to watch is Aly Michalka, former Disney Channel teen and one half of the musical duo Aly & A.J., who gets to mouth off filthily as Olive's BFF as she slowly puts distance between herself and the relentlessly wholesome sheen of Disney stardom.
Watch It With: The Will Ferrell/Adam McKay-produced pseudo-documentary The Virginity Hit, now in theaters. Together these two comedies make a double feature of today's teens and how they deal with sex in an age where technology only makes it easier to compulsively share too much information with the entire world, to the detriment of one's sterling reputation.