Easy A review

Easy A review

‘Easy A’ is an american high school movie with offbeat characterisation and one of the sharpest scripts in town. Fans of ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Heathers’ will probably already have seen it. If you haven’t, your penance is to watch it immediately, you big filmy floozy.

Holy plotholes, I’’ve always hated Teen American High School movies. Why would I ever want to watch the same characters screw the same guys, bully the same people and somehow give everyone a happy ending by extending the reaches of implausibility and relentlessly over-playing Barenaked Ladies’s One Week?

The answer would have been “when hell freezes over”, until the day I discovered ‘Mean Girls’. As it was written by Tina Fey, and so spot-on that it is genius, we can forgive it for containing Lindsay Lohan. And its success sparked a craze for witty, tongue-in-cheek films that appeal to both fluff fans and substance seekers. Most of these films flopped, but then along came Easy A…

The plot of ‘Easy A’ is pretty colour by numbers. Olive Penderghast takes pity on a gay friend who is bullied by – wait for it – the school jocks, and agrees to pretend to sleep with with him at a party to “prove“ he‘’s straight. But – shock horror – it all goes terribly horribly wrong. Oh, and Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgeley plays a love interest.

So far, so blah. Except that against all the odds, Easy A is hilarious. This is partly due to the charm of the characters and in particular Emma Stone’s fantastic performance as Olive, who instead of hiding under a rock when labelled the school slut, decides that this is the perfect time to get a social standing… and make a profit. Her family moments with her offbeat parentals are probably some of the funniest bits in the film, without trying too hard, and still portraying genuine affection. Alyson Michalka is also great as Olive’s terrifying best friend – and even the bitchiest characters are ones you love to hate.

Together with the offbeat characterisation, the inspired script is what makes Easy A shine. (That, and its references to other iconic films like the Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller‘s Day Off.) Olive’s character could easily have been turned into a simpering, self-pitying victim, but her wit and determination to face down anything thrown at her makes her likeable and she has some of the best lines in the history of high school films (quotes below).

Amazingly, not only did Tina Fey not have anything to do with it, but the script was written by a man! Nothing against men here, but the way in which the stud-versus-slut situation is addressed is so painfully accurate that I was certain this was written by a woman, and probably a woman who had experienced it first-hand.

Even the fact that this issue has been addressed by a film in the teen genre (though it did get a 15 certificate) is outstanding. The scene in which Olive and Brandon (the gay friend) leave the room they locked themselves in manages to sum up the point in around twenty seconds. Brandon charges out the door to a host of high fives from the boys who were bullying him the day before. Olive walks out to stares and whispers from the same people. We aren’t forced to dwell on the matter for an extended period of time (though the issue does need addressing in real life) and that painful truth does not force the story into becoming too serious, which is a good thing, in my opinion. When you rent a comedy, the odds are you want to laugh.

Something not quite as wonderful: I have Lisa Kudrow issues. If you love her, you’ll probably adore her role as school guidance counsellor, but if she makes the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand up while you fight an irrational urge to throw things, you’ll probably wish someone else (Tina Fey, ja?) had the role.

Also, (this didn’t bother me but I think it needs to be said) if you’re a devout Christian with a refined sense of humour, you may find this too near the knuckle. The school bitches aren’t cheerleaders for once, but hypocritical, perfectly groomed, militantly recruiting examples of the worst type of misled “bible basher“. If you’re open-minded, however, this makes for some hysterical moments.

Although ‘Easy A’ fits clearly into the Teen American High School genre, the usual stereotypes just aren’t there. This isn’t about a cheerleader, or a science nerd, or a group of Goths. It doesn’t even have Goths. It isn’t even about a normal girl trying to fit in by being popular, but about normal girl who doesn’t, and isn’t.

If you’re already a fan of the genre, chances are you’ve already seen ‘Easy A’, but if you normally have an aversion to teen high school films, place this one on the pedestal currently occupied by ‘Mean Girls’ and ‘Heathers’.


Easy A quotes

Olive‘s mum: I had a similar situation when I was your age. I had a horrible reputation.
Olive: Why?
Olive‘s mum: Because I slept with a whole bunch of people. Mostly guys.
Olive: Mom!

Olive: Don’t you think it’s a little strange that your boyfriend is 22 years old and still in high school?
Marianne: Not that it’s any of your business, trollop, but he is here by choice.
Olive: So it’s his choice that he’s a fourth year senior who can’t pass any test he takes?
Marianne: No, silly! [points up] His. His, with a capital H. If God wanted him to graduate than God would have given him the right answers.
Olive: You gotta be shittin’ me, woman.

Rhiannon: You’re being pretty cavalier about this. Aren’t you supposed to be eternally in love with him and sh*t?
Olive: Yes… I believe so, if I was the Gossip Girl in Sweet Valley of the Travelling Pants.

Olive: We’ve had nine classes together since Kindergarten… ten if you count Religion of Other Cultures, which I don’t because you called it science fiction and refused to go.

Olive: [to Brandon as she takes off her pants] Relax. Jesus. What is with you gays? Are you really that repulsed by lady parts? What do you think I have down there? A gnome?