Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Netflixing: Easy A

As much as I like watching movies, I might like rating them on Netflix better. In this series I will explain why I rate what I rate. This week...

Easy A fits nicely with Means Girls in the land of post-modern teen movies. From the first ten minutes it is apparent that it is aware of itself, with Emma Stone effectively winking the necessary knowing wink. Otherwise, it is fairly straight forward, hitting the exact beats at exact time they are supposed to be hit. This is not saying it a generic script, which it is not, but it does definitely play by the rules of the genre. A genre the film celebrates by outwardly acknowledging its forbearers despite the fact that Olive would have been about -10 when many of the alluded to John Hughes movies came out.

To that end the character of Olive seems to have been intentional written to speak like a grown up. A fact the movie acknowledges by 1) having the young Todd character outwardly say it to the young Olive and 2) giving Olive parents that talk to her like an adult.

Her parents might have been my favorite characters, seemingly created with the desire to defy the convention of the traditionally tough and not understanding movie parents. I related to the idea that sometimes teenagers have the most in common and actually enjoy the people that raised them. The success of this was helped by the brilliant performances by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.

Though, if I am going to mention casting I should note that first and foremost that Ms. Stone absolutely nailed it. She was apparently born to play Olive, a character that is both wise beyond her years yet still wracked with the lack of world weariness that is expected from a teenager. She is gorgeous but with a weird enough face that it is somewhat understand why she would be unpopular in high school. I imagine even a talented young actress in the same ilk like Emma Roberts would not have been able to do as good a job.

Similarly, much of the casting from necessarily annoying Amanda Bynes to Thomas Haden Church as the archetypal favorite teacher of a cool yet unpopular teen movie protagonist was spot on. The one exception is Penn Badgley who was such a bizarre cast as Todd. It seemed like Todd was supposed to be a dorky yet awkwardly charming romantic counterpart in the vain of her Superbad co-star Michael Cera or Zombieland co-star but Badgley played it in the only way he can as a full-on heart (of gold) throb. This legitimately could be the movies most inexcusable flaw. The first act expository stuff might have been a little too heavy handed and the third act melt down too predictable but both seemed to be the intention of the writer, Ben V. Royal, who did not want divert too far from the format.

Overall, the movie achieves it goal of being a teen movie for teenagers that also works for post-teenagers. It was incredibly smart, using the Scarlet Letter allusion to comment on high school gossip and a generation of oblivious oversharers yet deft enough to not make the film to weighty or didactic, choosing to have these big ideas mentioned in offhand comments. Easy A might be an easy (!) watch but it is by no means simple:


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