Easy A (2010)
October 18, 2010
Easy A (2010) – Review by Isaac
“The rumor-filled totally false account of how I ruined my flawless reputation.”
Plot Synopsis: Well-meaning Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) accidentally purports a rumored “fling” in the High School bathroom, leading the entire school to take notice of her. Enjoying the attention, Olive agrees to another ruse, this time allowing a homosexual friend to escape ridicule by appearing straight. The rumors of her adulterous acts take on a life of their own as the story plays out as an homage to The Scarlett Letter.
(Don’t worry, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” is not actually in the movie.)
Emma Stone is absolutely fantastic as the witty, endearing, flawed, and attention seeking Olive Penderghast. From John Hughes references to musical numbers, this is a star-making film for Stone. I was continually impressed with her ability to handle everything this role required, especially the voice-overs (there are SO many bad narrations in teen movies). I’ve enjoyed Hollywood’s recent trend of making the hero witty and articulate, its much more enjoyable than the bland “teenager filled with inner torment! argh!” (-man, I hated Twilight.)
Easy A is an unusual movie. There’s a ton of (PG-13) sexual content for a film with no sex whatsoever. They’re talking about it, joking about it, boys make up stories about sleeping with Olive, but no-one does it. This makes an odd mix of vile and innocent: Olive wears a ‘scarlet A’ emblazoned on her clothing but is truly a virgin. Because sex is the general theme of the entire movie, I can’t recommend Easy A to younger audiences. But with the lack of, well, actual sex, this film could’ve been so much worse (and is cleaner than the trailer implies). On the scale of teen comedies, Easy A is light and nowhere near 2007’s Superbad, which teenagers swarmed to in hordes.
Easy A has strong themes of duality: two-faces, alter-egos, and hypocrites. Olive admits “somehow I thought I could create this totally badass persona and not have it effect the real me.” As the story plays out, little lies become big lies and eventually everyone is held accountable for their true actions. But this duality isn’t just applied to the deceptive protagonist (Olive), but to the antagonists as well, (Marianne and the “Jesus Freaks”). Cruel, two-faced, and judgmental Christians make up the villains in Easy A. It is “holier-than-thou” Marianne who spreads the first rumor of Olive’s promiscuity, and later leads a full-blown protest with signs condemning adultery. Marianne and her “Jesus Freaks” put on a pious face for the world but underneath are just as lost, confused, and hurt as their unbelieving peers.
As a Christ-follower, I recognize where this presentation of Christianity is coming from. To be honest; Christians have a pretty bad rap these days. Protesting, hate speech, holier-than-thou attitudes, and a complete disconnect from reality are common occurrences. This tragedy has left Christianity ineffective in the modern world. In the film, Olive is beginning to realize the consequences of her lies and seeks help from God. She picks up a Bible and finds it indecipherable. She enters a Catholic confessional only to discover no-one there to hear her confession. Olive finally enters a protestant church but the Pastor (Marianne’s father) is more concerned with asserting his own theological position than helping this young woman. According to Easy A (and society), Christians are either absent or too self-absorbed to do any good.
Secondly, Easy A recognizes that Christians are terrific gossipers. Rumors spread quickly throughout high-schools as is, but Christians shouldn’t be spreading them with an air of self-righteousness. In fact, Proverbs 6:17-19 lists Gossip and Pride among the seven things God hates, right there next to murder. Marianne may not be guilty of adultery (or lying, in Olive’s case) but gossip and pride are just as inexcusable.
Easy A ends with the message “don’t judge, just mind your own business.” This point is simple, sometimes appropriate, but also misguided. I’ve seen “mind your own business” lead to a few train-wrecks in my life. I believe the true gem hidden behind all the innuendo lies in “the truth will set you free”.