The Inexplicable Emma Stone Backlash

Among the faults with the young actress: she smiles too much

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There are some big fans of Emma Stone here at The Atlantic Wire. Stone is the kind of actor--funny, self-effacing, disorientingly attractive--that people tend to be big fans of. At 22, she hasn't been in any iconic films, but she has a knack for elevating the material around her--the warmth and patience she brought to Superbad rewards multiple viewings and she nudged Easy A beyond its one-joke premise to become a modest hit with critics and audiences. This summer, she's arguably the best part of the ensemble romantic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love, despite the challenge of playing an otherwise clear-headed young woman who falls in love with Ryan Gosling in his fidgety oddball mode. If she was a stock she'd be in her vertical trajectory.

And yet, there are people who do not care for Stone, just as there are people who do not care for ice cream sandwiches, the designated hitter, and the movie Diner. But even as reactionary backlash goes, the reactionary backlash against Stone this summer has been somewhat scattershot. In his pan of Crazy, Stupid, Love, New York Observer film critic Rex Reed calls her the "flavor of the month," which is tough, but not nearly as bad as his assessment of Gosling. ("[He] looks like he’s coming down with something contagious.") As for Stone's stunning Vanity Fair cover last month, the New York Observer's Daniel D'Addario is quick to point out that while Stone could have a career trajectory similar to Natalie Portman, who graced the magazine's cover in May 1999, she could also go the way of October 1998 cover girl Gretchen Mol, who parlayed the spread and the plum role of Matt Damon's gloomy gus girlfriend in Rounders into being a cautionary tale for every young actress who appears on the cover of Vanity Fair, from now until the end of time. Sometimes you just have to trust yourself not to be the next Gretchen Mol.

Opening tomorrow, The Help, based on Kathryn Stockett's bestselling novel, is Stone's biggest reach yet, a period piece that requires her to adopt a Southern accent. Lots of people have done that! For some reason, Hollywood Elsewhere's Jeffrey Wells, who is usually very reasonable about these things, thinks it's beyond her. "She's all about spirit, eyes, pizazz, snap," writes Wells. "And she's not a blonde. And The Help looks like trouble." Movieline also grumbled about the trailer for the film, which prominently featured Stone doing "[her]smiley do-gooder shtick."

So, in conclusion: Emma Stone can win back the small portion of the country that doesn't have a crush on her by frowning more, not appearing in the same magazine Gretchen Mol did over a decade ago, and not trying to stretch herself as an actress. Tough crowd, this.

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