Friday, September 24, 2010

easy a

Gosh, being a teenager is hard, isn’t it? Like it’s not difficult enough to try and study hard enough to get the grades you need for the course you want to get into, and negotiate a few fun times with your strict parents, and work part time so you can go to a movie occasionally. Then there’s the added problem of your reputation. Because everyone kind of has one: you could be “funny”, or perhaps “quiet”, or “nerdy”, or “good for a lift to the station”. And a reputation is hard to shake, especially when it’s something much worse, like “slut”.

If you’ve ever been called a slut, you’ll know it’s not great fun.
One of the times, I had some fellow student scream it at me while I was on the bus and I went home and wept. Back then I thought it was unjustified, and now the word just annoys me. Who cares if you want to have sex with lots of people? Why was it ever an issue, or anyone elses business or problem? How do I use the terms in this review? Anyway, I can’t go back in time and give my sixteen-year-old self a pat on the shoulder and an explanation about reclaiming words and whatnot, so I’ll stop going on about it and get off my rant soapbox and onto my review soapbox. They’re located very close together and sometimes I get them mixed up.

Starring just about every It Person in the history of Right Now In Film/Television, Easy A follows Olive Penderghast (Zombieland’s Emma Stone) as she goes from being an invisible member of the school’s population to the resident “tart”. It all starts with an innocent enough lie, as she tells her potty-mouthed friend Rhiannon (Hell
cats’ Aly Michalka) a lie about where she spent her weekend—at a party, with a boy—to get out of going camping with Rhi’s hippy-nudist family. Rhi accuses Olive of losing her virginity and hiding the fact, and after being harangued about it Olive eventually caves and tells Rhi she slept with this made-up boy just to shut her up. Alas, they are overheard by Marianne (Amanda Bynes), resident religious enthusiast and a nasty piece of work, who calls Olive a sinner and then tattles to the entire student body. With everyone whispering about her, Olive finally snaps and is sent to detention, where she makes a new friend in Brandon (Cougar Town’s Dan Byrd) and then is confronted with a strange request by him: will she pretend to sleep with him to allay (true) rumours about his sexuality?

At first horrified, Olive sees how miserable Brandon is and they stage an elaborate pretend sex session at a party. While Brandon is happy, Olive is shunned by everyone and labelled a “slut”. When some of Brandon’s friends find out what happened, they ask if they too can get in on the pretend action, and they’re willing to pay for it. So Olive sets up a scheme where the school’s misfits are able to boost their reputations, and Olive gets gift vouchers for her favourite store. Sounds, er, strange, but it’s almost a sound business idea until Olive starts to feel the wrath of the entire school as she is abandoned by h
er friends, and a campaign is begun by Marianne to have her removed from the school.

I have a lot of goodwill for this movie, because I like Emma Stone, the idea was interesting and I went with two of my newest pals so it had that kind of accompanying thrill that a date with someone lovely has. It was also pretty funny and all the act
ors are great. But I have come to the conclusion that, much like high school, Easy A is annoying.

For one, we’re supposed to start the movie believing this person when she tells us she is invisible at school.

Look at her. She is ridiculously attractive. Not only that, but she’s funny, and she’s smart. I’m not convinced that any school could be blind to these facts. And it’s not as if the school is populated by only the hottest people in Hollywood. The casting agent did a good job of getting a convincing ensemble of high school students, all shapes and sizes, and then made the two “average-looking” students (Olive and Rhi) Emma Stone and Alyson Michalka. The school’s cool kids have nothing on the level of hotness of these girls, and it’s ridiculous.

The worst aspect for me is that, apart from a very small scope of people consisting of Olive and her family, her English teacher Mr Griffith (Thomas Haden Church, who has probably done other things but will forever be known as “Ned from Ned & Stacey”), and affable hottie “Woodchuck” Todd (Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgley) the characters in Easy A are just awful people. Seriously, what a cast of assholes. Rhiannon is a pain in the butt who turns on Olive and calls her a skank; the Christian group are a pack of bitchy hypocrites; guidance counsellor Mrs Griffith (Lisa Kudrow) is almost completely reprehensible. There is one awful scene where a male student asks Olive to pretend they slept together; when she tells him no, he tells her he could just spread the rumour anyway and everyone would believe him. It’s a terrible thing to say, and Olive tells him off; but then this guy goes all sadface and says he’s too hideous to get a date. So Olive relents. Why? The guy’s a bad man! Olive herself makes some other pretty stupid decisions, can be occasionally mean and comes across as a bit of a smartass, though she is still someone I could get behind. (Also, while I’m ranting, she pronounces the word “twat” like “twot”, leading to a scene I felt confused by because I had no idea why everyone was so offended by a word I’d never even heard.)

For a more biased interpretation, I was surprised to see a high school where, after a girl slept with one person, the entire student body was whispering about it. While I understand that a reputation is easy to get, false or not, at my high school no one really cared about the sex life of others, especially after just one time and/or person. I mean, there were enough mean girls at my school to make life occasionally miserable, but no one was into gossiping about people who’d had sex. I was honestly surprised with that aspect of the film and, while I guess it could be true in other schools, it wasn’t for mine, so it meant I couldn’t buy into the idea straight away. Even if someone at my school had been suspected of sleeping with half the boys/girls, my fellow students certainly wouldn’t be out the front picketing to get them kicked out. What kind of motivation do the writers think teenagers actually have?

Look, Easy A is not a bad movie. Olive’s family is a riot, and Woodchuck Todd is pretty cute. But with everyone else being so stupid or painful, I didn’t really like it. The ending made me cringe, with Olive suddenly bursting into a musical number (so she can sing as well? But is INVISIBLE? You can see this might have bothered me) and don’t bother staying until after the credits.

In summary: Below Expectations, but not by much.


  1. Yeah I can see why it would be hard to understand, but high schools in the USA really are like that (albeit with less hyperattractive models-turned-actresses and more obesity). At least mine was. My boyfriend and I were told by the principal to walk on opposite sides of the school corridors; I was bullied and tagged for not being a virgin (because, y'know, hell and etc) and it was pretty nasty stuff. American culture is simply far more fundamentalist than Australian culture is.

    Having said that, there are also many awesome fabulous wonderful Americans. But they are golden, sparkly, needles in haystacks.

  2. Thanks for this comment, that actually changes a lot of my opinion! I wasn't sure if it was representative of one single religious-type school or indicative of an overall cultural difference. I'm sorry you had that bad experience, how awful for you. I really didn't know that kind of thing happened these days. I lost my virginity when I was at high school and no one gave a toss about it.

    I think I forget sometimes that other countries are different. I'm dense, what can I say.

  3. Thanks. It was traumatic at the time but I'm sorta glad I had the experience as it made me much more aware of cultural diversity and religious fundamentalism. My favourite insult from the time was being called a "leg-spread kangaroo devil woman". I kid you not. I dated one guy! ONE. In the whole year I lived there.

    Mind you, while the other kids were busy being judgemental I was learning how to have an orgasm. Who wins?!

    You want some lols? Google "Bob Jones University".

  4. Ha! Victory was YOURS! But holy crap, I cannot believe that insult. Had they been reading too much Tank Girl or something? But "devil" woman? I am so aghast I think I went backwards in time.


    I went straight to student expectations and just saw the word "Christlikeness" about ten times, is that even cool? I especially like how they have to "submit to authority" (creepy) and "Abstain from lust and immorality" (THAT IS LIKE THE WHOLE POINT OF LIFE.) Also the dress code is harsh, and I'm breaking two right now: 1) Sleeves are required
    2) Necklines may come no lower than four fingers below the collarbone
    Also anyone who thinks it's okay to make someone wear hose is going to get a knuckle sandwich.

  5. Did you get to the bit yet about how interracial relationships were not allowed until a couple years ago? And if you want to go out on a date with someone, you need a chaperone to accompany. Oh and lights out at 9pm!

    Oh gosh oh gosh oh gosh. Slightly off topic but I have just this minute discovered the world of Christian Domestic Discipline. Google THAT and see if you can sleep tonight.

  6. I'm really curious how you pronounce "twat"?? That really IS how its pronounced everyone I've ever heard use the word.

    And I feel super weird for asking. HA!

  7. Angie, I'm shocked! I am learning all these facts like: You can't have teenager sex in the United States; Americans can't pronounce "o"; I like making sweeping and innacurate generalisations. Here and in Britain we rhyme "twat" with "hat". I really was confused in that scene because it sounded like she said "swot", which is a vague term for a student that studies a lot. I would still be confused except that Olive spelled it with her peas. :)


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