Saturday, November 27, 2010
Easy A ***
Director: Will Gluck
Cast: Emma Stone, Alyson Michalka, Penn Badgley
Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson
Stanley Tucci, Lisa Kudrow, Cam Gigandet, Malcolm McDowell
Dan Byrd, Jake Sandvig
You know how they usually say "save the best for last", right? Have you noticed then, how movie credits usually do that when they know they have something special on their hands? They refer to a special someone by "introducing" or "presenting" and in some cases they go by the very humble "and". Such is the case of Easy A, watching its inventive credits we take in a quite remarkable cast (Kudrow! Church! Tucci and Clarkson! McDowell! all of whom are amazing by the way) before we are told that there's also someone named Emma Stone starring in the film.
What nobody tells us is how much of Ms. Stone we'll be seeing and how extraordinary she is. She plays Olive Penderghast, a high school student who unintentionally sets her reputation on fire.
Trying to look for an excuse to indulge in some secret single behavior and not hang out with her constricting best friend Rhiannon (Michalka) during the weekend she tells her that she has a date.
Come Monday morning, Rhi interrogates Olive so much that just to shut her up she ends up confessing she lost her virginity to a college guy during the weekend.
This confession happens to be heard by school prude Maryanne (Bynes) who then proceeds to spread the story faster than an STD. Olive soon becomes notorious for putting out and she begins getting the strangest requests from people who ask her to say she had sex with them to lubricate their high school social status.
In this way she "beds" a closeted gay guy, an underachieving geek and just about anyone else willing to give her a gift certificate for some nice restaurant.
Unlike teen flicks where the idea of sex is shrouded by mystery, prudishness or just plain horniness, Easy A approaches it from a completely mature place and makes us wonder exactly what is so special about sex in a day and age when it could either mean uber coolness or complete degradation.
The screenwriters aptly compare Olive's conundrum to that of Hester Prynne from The Scarlet Letter who had to carry a red letter on her dress to condemn her adultery and the director asks us for example what are social networks if not scarlet letters of our own making?
Therefore when Olive realizes the mess she's in, instead of trying to dispel the rumors she becomes empowered by them. She creates a strong sexual persona for herself in which she can feel comfortable and powerful.
Of course, the movie never implies that people should go around faking sexual histories and we see how the situation gets out of hand for the heroine but we leave the movie wondering why we act towards sex like we do.
How many people you know for example, have faked entire stories about their conquests or inversely lied about their promiscuity? For what purpose?
This movie makes us question the idea of sex in a world where it can become a pro or a con. For everyone who thinks it's awesome we slept with three strangers during a weekend, others are ready to take us to hell and make us pay for these sins.
The best thing about Easy A is that it doesn't pretend to know the answers to these questions, like a living thing it makes discoveries along with its protagonist. And what a star they got!
Stone is pure comedic perfection. Watch how she delivers her complicated lines without the awkward selfconsciousness of Ellen Page or how she embraces her provocative beauty without the lack of restraint Lindsay Lohan came to show at some point.
Her performance is amazing because of the way in which Stone becomes Olive, there's no tick-tock examination of the character as she acts, none of the selfrighteous "I'm a teen" mode actors in similar movies have.
It's funny that Olive is such a fan of 80's teen comedies because in a way she embodies the evolution John Hughes' work should have commended to the genre. Instead the genre got stuck in trying to recreate his films without taking into consideration that things would change.
Interestingly enough the film makes fun of itself all the time, especially when it defies viewers to contradict its ridiculous, but true, points.
Therefore at times Easy A plays like a compilation tape that chides this generation for its need to be famous by way of infamy while bashing in the privileges that come from sexual liberation.
Emma Stone may be no Dr. Ruth but she sure knows how to guide us through the joys and calamities of sex.