I might be dating myself here, but who remembers Can’t Hardly Wait? What about American Pie? Or the gloriously evil Mean Girls? That’s right: I’m talking about high school angst movies, and they’ve been rockin’ the big screen since The Breakfast Club. For your consideration, I introduce a newer, smarter, shinier version of these comic fests in Easy A.
The plot is perfect for a literary nerd. Olive (played by Golden Globe nominee Emma Stone) is a senior, and as such, she’s studying The Scarlet Letter. You remember The Scarlet Letter, don’t you? In it, Hester Prynne is a bad, bad lady in seventeenth century Boston. She commits adultery and has to wear a scarlet “A” so that everyone knows she’s been bad. Well, beneath this pretext, Easy A begins.
Olive, who’s your basic overlooked smart girl in high school, says some things that start a rumor. The rumor is that Olive had sex with a college guy. Well. The rumor explodes in true high school fashion. Add this generation’s smart phone fascination, and the rumor moves even faster than it did in my day. Instead of denying any of it, Olive gladly accepts her new rank as school slut in an attempt to retain popularity. (She even pins a scarlet “A” on her clothes.) However, rumors have a way of spinning out of control … especially when Olive’s crush shows up.
There are priceless back-up players to this scandalous plot line. Most notable are the uber-Christians, led by the wicked Marianne, who want to ruin Olive’s life. Not a very Christian sentiment, no, but that’s what makes their guitar-playing, picketing behavior so ironic … and clever.
There is Olive’s gay pal, Brandon, who really starts the Olive-as-adulterer rumor. See, Brandon was sick of getting picked on for being gay, so he asked Olive to pretend to have sex with him at a high school party to save his rep. She agrees, and it is Brandon who opens the door to other nerd guys, who offer Olive gift cards in exchange for additional rumors.
One of the comedic highlights: Olive’s parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson. They’re an example of the perfect parents, who have raised a practically perfect daughter in Olive, despite the rumors. Their jokes are snort-worthy, but at the same time, they offer Olive the intellectual, moral, and psychological support she needs, while retaining her freedom to make her own decisions.
Finally, there’s Thomas Haden Church as Olive’s English teacher. He’s a comic genius. Yeah, the brilliant writing in Easy A helped, but when he goes from talking about Olive’s new slut attire to a reminder (“Don’t forget, tomorrow’s Earth Day”) in one sentence, it is comic genius.
It’s easy to tell you all about the comedy, but Easy A is deeper than a comedy and filled with social commentary. Emma Stone deserves an award for portraying the high school kid who suddenly gets popular for the wrong reasons. Not only does she often doubt her decision to play the part of school slut, but she searches for deeper meaning, as she sinks deeper into her own rumor.
For instance, she seeks out the Bible at her local bookstore …
Olive: “I’m looking for the Bible.”
Bookseller: “It’s in Bestsellers, right next to Twilight.”
She seeks solace through confession, but she never quite gets a clear answer. Truthfully, you may have to decide yourself: is it worse to lie about being a slut OR to actually be a slut? You gotta feel for the girl, because Olive is really a good person. She gets into trouble by being too nice. Whenever she takes the fall for some pathetic loser who wants to pretend he felt her up, she’s saving his reputation by fudging her own—which is why Easy A keeps you hooked. By the end, you love Olive. You’re rooting for her, despite what the kids are saying.
Easy A is a lot of things. It’s a comedy. It’s a romance. It’s a commentary on social mores. At its simplest, it’s a must-see. I don’t care if you think it looks like a “chick flick.” It isn’t. It’s incredibly smart and honest, and frankly, I’m in love with Emma Stone.
Check out the trailer!!!!!!!!!