By Drew Mackie
The story should sound familiar to anyone aware of popular culture in 2004: A redheaded, up-and-coming starlet makes it big in a teen comedy that manages to skewer high school politics with enough intelligence to appeal to young and old alike. She's not the typical, winsome blonde, but she instead charms audiences with a smart sassiness and spot-on comedic timing.
Yes, it's Lindsay Lohan -- or, rather, it was her when "Mean Girls" hit theaters in 2004 -- but now it's Emma Stone, the alt-cool actress currently starring in "Easy A." And it hasn't gone unnoticed among those zeroed in on pop culture that Stone's career launch coincides with the lowest point of Lohan's thus far. The latter has failed a drug test and could now go back to jail, where no one wears pink on Wednesdays and the girls are a hell of a lot meaner. So can Emma Stone be the ingénue that Lindsay Lohan failed to become?
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First, let's acknowledge that we do Emma Stone a disservice by thinking about her as the second coming of La Lohan. Despite all appearances -- the most striking being both gals' red hair, as noted by EW.com and others -- Stone has none of Lohan's DNA and has the additional benefit of being raised by neither Dina nor Michael Lohan. (Points in Stone's favor, we say.) Lohan appeared in films as a child, while Stone made her on-screen debut at the age of 17. Lohan began in cutesy fare like "The Parent Trap" and "Freaky Friday," but Stone entered the public eye with the teen sex comedy "Superbad" and the undead splat-a-thon "Zombieland."
It's only with the release of "Easy A" that Stone's career path seems to mirror Lohan's, but it's also worth noting that her critically praised teen flick has thrived without the benefit of the queens of "Saturday Night Live" -- Amy Poehler, Ana Gasteyer, and Tina Fey, the last of whom both wrote and starred in "Mean Girls." Granted, "Easy A" boasts a supporting cast that includes Lisa Kudrow, Thomas Haden Church and other respected actors, but none of them suggests "instant comedic gold" the way those "SNL" vets do. Coincidentally, Stone will host "SNL" on October 23, just as Lohan did after the release of "Mean Girls." And while a then-untarnished Lohan rocked the stage during her first hosting gig, time will tell whether Stone fares as well with live comedy. (Lohan's December 4 hosting gig seems questionable, meanwhile.)
So, yes, they're different enough -- but can Stone do what Lohan couldn't? All signs point to yes. From our perspective, as people who (thankfully) don't stand in Lindsay Lohan's inner circle, the "Mean Girls" star met her downfall as a result of kookooballs parents, an association with a hard-partying crowd (clubmate Paris Hilton is facing her own drug charges, don't forget) and roles that declined in quality in direct proportion to the number of tabloid headlines she appeared in. Stone should fare better than Lohan if she simply focuses on her career while avoiding fly-by-night friends who enjoy stepping out of limousines without proper "privates protection." So far, Stone's attitude of not wanting to be the "token sexy girl" (as she recently told People) should serve her well.
Finally, there remains the question of whether Stone and Lohan could coexist in the movie business without stealing each other's roles. Again, we say yes. We doubt Stone is gunning for the role of porn star Linda Lovelace in "Notorious," the biopic delayed because Lindsay Lohan's legal troubles may prevent her from performing the lead role. Besides, the notion that Hollywood couldn't support two non-Barbie doll actresses is ridiculous. Both Lohan and Stone are beautiful, talented young women. For Stone, the appeal lies in her status as a new, undiscovered property. Lohan, meanwhile, can draw crowds and praise if she finally sobers up and rediscovers her acting abilities -- at least her "Machete" co-stars are rooting for her.
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Think about it: How happy would we all be if an older, wiser Lindsay Lohan makes that big comeback and pulls of a role that reminds us why we saw such promise in her? And, failing that, I guess we could also look forward to Emma Stone playing Lohan in some tawdry biopic. I'm hoping for the former.