If there was ever a movie that made me truly appreciate Emma Stone, it was probably this one. I tend to see this as the movie where Emma Stone essentially plays herself, at least as far as her character's personality goes. When I see her being interviewed, I certainly feel this character come through more than, say, Mia from 'La La Land'. Although, it's safe to say, she brings a lot of herself in just about anything she plays; it's part of what makes her so incredibly charming. Add to that her Oscar-worthy talent, and she makes for my favorite actress, and she has been for quite some time.
Narrated by Olive Pendergast (Stone), she tells us a story via "web broadcast" after her high school life has taken a turn for the worse. She is here to tell us her side of the story as opposed to all of the hearsay around the school yard about her. So, she's speaking to us as though we're fellow students who may have heard some pretty nasty things about her, possibly judging her without hearing her side of the story - a habit I think we have all been guilty of, especially back in those angsty days of high school. It all stats with Olive lying to her friend, Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) about having a date in place of a weekend camping trip Rhiannon wants her to take with her parents.
The following Monday, Rhiannon asks Olive for explicit details of the date, and presses her to "admit" to losing her virginity. At first, word gets around, and people start paying attention to Olive, which she appreciates after being overlooked for so long (by the way, yes, this is another teen movie cliche where the "unattractive" girl is in actuality gorgeous). Things begin to spiral a bit, however, when she agrees to help an unpopular gay student, Brendon (Dan Byrd) out by "taking his virginity", faking it at a high school party. Soon, her reputation gets out of hand and she has to learn about a few things the hard way, all the while trying to do the right thing. The whole execution is actually very well done, becase it allows the audience to understand both perspectives. It would be easy to get sucked into the rumor mill, but I feel like if you were ever a high school student, you have probably also been in Olive's position, one way or another.
Directed by Will Gluck, this is sort of his shining star, and has often been toted as Emma Stone's 'Mean Girls' in the sense that it's her true breakout role. We knew her from things like 'Zombieland' and 'Superbad' before this, sure, but this was what really made the masses notice her; especially as a character just about anyone who has ever attended high school can relate to. Considering Lindsay Lohan in 'Mean Girls', it may not have been her breakout role, but it was definitely the highlight of her acting career, and when people noticed she wasn't just a child actress anymore. Back to the point, however, Stone would show her Oscar-worthy talent just one year later in 'The Help' (although she wasn't nominated that year).
There is, of course, plenty more talent than just Emma here as well. Throughout the film, we meet the likes of her favorite teacher, Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church) who is married to her guidance councilor, Mrs. Griffith (Lisa Kudrow), and both bring a good laugh to the screen. However no one quite tops her most awesome parents, Dill (Stanley Tucci) and Rosemary (Patricia Clarkson). To top the family's food name sequence off, they also have an adopted son named Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins). These are the open-minded, funny and totally casual parents one might envy, and they're easily one of the highlights of the movie. Of course, things wouldn't be complete without a perfect villain in the form of Marianne (Amanda Bynes) who we sort of love to hate, but her character is pretty hilarious with how over-the-top she is.
I don't have a whole lot more to say on the matter, but I did choose to close out this month's theme with perhaps my favorite of the bunch. Besides the fact that it's Emma Stone (who I clearly love), there are many likable characters and funny lines throughout the film, and frankly, if you did like 'Mean Girls' and haven't seen this yet, you're totally missing out. There are a lot of similarities, but not the least of which is the film's sense of teen-angsty humor. The only thing that could have made it much better would have been if John Hughes was around to direct it, as he could have added his perfect teen movie touch to it. But it's still great as it is, and it doesn't deny any appreciation for John Hughes' classics from the 80s - hell, it mentions them throughout. So, if you're on the lookout for a very solid teen movie that you may have missed (I find there's still so many who haven't seen this), I highly recommend giving it a watch.