Movie Review: Easy A (2010)
Easy A is a promising contender for one of the best films of the year. Along with 2007’s Superbad, it happens to be a rare example of how that mock-worthy and pointlessly hedonistic genre of teen comedy can, in fact, be saved just when you swore up and down that it couldn’t.
The should-be-amazingly-obvious-but-worth-stating-again-anyway truth: When the plot of a teen-targeting film doesn’t focus to a fault on the illegal consumption/use and trafficking of booz, bongs, and banging, good things can and do happen—and at the same time, young audiences are won over.
Knowing nothing about the film ahead of time, it was only 43 minutes in until I knew what “Easy A” actually stood for—and no, it has not a thing in the world to do with a sexy-but-misunderstood teacher getting it on behind closed doors with a hot, young female student who wouldn’t pass otherwise.
After fibbing to her best friend (Alyson Michalka) on why she chose not to join her on a camping trip because of a made-up fling with a college student, the rumor mill does its wonders, and the school soon sees V-cardholder Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) as not just a virgin, but a sold-out slut. Seizing the limelight in a retro attempt to wear her own Scarlett Letter-inspired, trollop attire, things go good for a while as Olive milks the lie for all its worth. But soon, the ill-gotten popularity begins to work against her as her social life erodes.
Olive is surrounded by some interesting characters, all of them we want to see more of because we see their personality traits in some of the people we know. And the ones at home with her are just as peculiar as those at school. Her mother (Patricia Clarkson), stepfather (Stanley Tucci), and adopted little brother (Bryce Clyde Jenkins) are a handful. But none compete with her antagonistic lead and hilariously fundamentalist Christian, Marianne (Amanda Bynes), who loves nothing more than to tell Olive just how headed to hell she is. What more would you expect from the proud and pious high school-equivalent of a pitchfork mob-leader who wants the perceived skank kicked out of school?
Now throw in a screwy school counselor, Mrs. Griffith (Lisa Kudrow, opposite Thomas Haden Church), with marital issues. And then don’t forget the cast of mostly unforgettable peers that play weighty roles in the plot, and you have a movie that runs rings around its competition.
In addition to exposing the popular myth that everyone in high school these days loses their virginity somewhere around age nine, Easy A takes a hammer to the double-standards that are thrust on females, the same standards that are never put on males; a fling for a man is just another notch in the bedpost, but for a woman, it’s a disgrace and a sign of an ominous, open-legged “lady of the evening.” This laughably lampooned hypocrisy can be as appreciated as the embellished behavior of absolutely every character in the film.
Easy A aims to be funny, and it is, in its intensely comical characterizations that never stop delivering on laughs from the exaggerations that you may begin to anticipate and want more of. And we can laugh all we want and be amazed at the pathetically depicted, two-faced nature of human beings, but underneath the chuckles is something serious about how easy it is to be someone else. The tough part is owning up and embracing the real you.
Grade: A+ (4 stars) Recommended!
Rated: PG-13 (for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material)
Director: Will Gluck
Summary: A clean-cut high school student relies on the school's rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing.
Starring: Emma Stone "Olive," Penn Badgley "Woodchuck Todd," Amanda Bynes "Marianne," Dan Byrd "Brandon," Thomas Haden Church "Mr. Griffith," Patricia Clarkson "Rosemary," Lisa Kudrow "Mrs. Griffith," Malcolm McDowell "Principal Gibbons"
Genre: Comedy / Romance