When responsible and uncool high school student Olive helps a gay friend stay in the closet, by pretending she had sex with him, her popularity booms and she finds out just how alluring the rumor mill’s power of popularity really is.
To be honest, I expected a lot more from this film. I’m not sure why? I guess I must have heard from some one a while back that they liked it but I can’t really remember and wouldn’t say that this film was overhyped for me. Still, I was remarkably uncharmed by “Easy A.”
I’m gonna start with the good. Mainly because there is a lot to like about this movie.
First off, Emma Stone is pretty delightful. I’m not normally a huge Emma Stone fan. I like her when she is good and don’t when she isn’t so great. She’s not an actress that ‘sells’ a movie for me but this is definitely one of her better performances. Partly, I think this is due to just how good she is with comedy. Just like in “La La Land,” her humor is used to great effect to endear you to her, despite the fact that, in this film, she is going to take a pretty dark turn.
This is of course helped by outstanding casting for her parents Stanley Tucci (“The Lovely Bones,” 2009) and Patricia Clarkson (“The Green Mile,” 1999). Both of them play pretty woke parents who seem more like pals with Olive than parents with a heavy heaping of sarcastic wry humor.
I suppose that’s my first negative with this film though. The sarcastic approach to everything does wear thin after a while and isn’t helped much when everything turns out ok and we get a more earnest heartfelt piece of Olive and her folks. There is certainly a bit of that teen angsty attitude of ‘anyone-who-cares-about-things-too-deeply-is-dumb.’ It’s funny at times but as hopefully people eventually grow to understand that the world is more complicated than that, so the humor and fun becomes trying at a certain point. (And yes I know that’s part of the point of the film. I just don’t think that excuses a comedy from losing its funniness
Another failing of the film, and this is a nitpick, is the way that the internet and technology is portrayed in the movie. It’s just so unrealistic and feels like it was written and designed by middle aged people who happened to see on the news that some kids are really getting into that internet video thingy. I get that there was some lag when it came to figuring out how to portray online life in the aughts but this was made in 2010, not 1999. It’s barely any better than the portrayal of the internet in “Mission Impossible.”
So, I saved the worst for last and it is probably particular to me and other Christians but the way that religious people are portrayed in this film is simply offensive.
“Easy A” is basically a movie about a girl who is straightlaced but through a well intentioned lie, develops a reputation for being a “slut.” This brings her popularity with guys but she loses a lot of her old girl friends and becomes the target of a clique of religious ‘do gooders’ who make fun of her, pray for her, and basically, become her most vocal haters.
As a Christian, I have never met a single Christian who acts the way these ones do. This is coming from a guy who likes the movie “Saved.” in that film, Mandy Moore leads a similar group of Christian concerned crusaders but she isn’t the only Christian in that film. There are plenty of others who aren’t so cruel.
Why does this film feel the need to build a strawwoman out of Amanda Bynes (“Hairspray,” 2007) who can’t act to save a fictional soul, and then take her down like the mockery of Christianity that she is? There are plenty of other people who don’t like Olive’s apparently promiscuous activity that aren’t burdened by being wholly unlikable in every way.
I know there are Christians out there who can be real jerks but that doesn’t excuse this portrayal in a media landscape that frequently uses Christians as their villains. It would be like showing a Muslim in this movie and having him running around yelling “Allahu Ahkbar” and threatening to kill all the americans at the school. Sure there are bad examples out there but to single them out unnecessarily and constantly put a real bad taste in my mouth.
That didn’t stop me from having fun with this movie, though. I think anyone there are a lot of people who would like this movie a lot for its humor and heart. Also its pretty rare to see a teen comedy that discusses sex so heavily and openly but isn’t so raunchy that it has to be Rated R. It’s certainly still too rough for some audiences but, for many, this movie will hit that sweet spot of being highly enjoyable and entertaining without doing too much to turn of weaker kneed viewers.
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