Easy A

My busy work schedule of the past months has one advantage: by the time a movies is finally reviewed, I’m able to incorporate the DVD review. Today Easy A, branded as just another modern version of classic literature – a genre which really took off with Amy Heckerling‘s Clueless and is now so old it’s allowed to have sex in lots of countries.

Talking about sex, that’s the big issue in Easy A, with an “A” referring to Nathaniel Hawthorne‘s classic novel The Scarlet Letter. The book has been filmed before, with a good silent version and a lacklustre adaptation starring Demi Moore. And for once, you don’t need me to tell you this: protagonist Olive (Emma Stone) reviews them for me. And they are not the only movies mentioned in the film: Olive – and, let’s be honest, director Will Gluck, have a soft spot for the romantic teen movies of the 80s, the John Hughes era.

Ned and Stacey and Sideways star Thomas Haden Church teaches Olive and her classmates about the classic book where a scarlet “A” indicates the adultery of a woman. Soon thereafter, Olive saves a gay boy who isn’t ready to come out of the closet by fooling everyone into thinking he’s her boyfriend. Sadly, one good deed leaves to another and soon the outcasts line up to be her boyfriend. By this time, Olive’s reputation has gone from being invisible to being the school slut and Olive chooses to wallow in her new reputation: she pins up a giant red “A” on her chest and “sluttifies” her wardrobe. The new Olive has been born.

Sadly, that’s the most credible part of the film: girls still can’t do a fourth of what boys do before being labelled a slut. Then again, Easy A doesn’t aim for credibility: it’s a moral play rather than a documentary. The biggest proof of this is by having someone who’s over 25 portraying a pupil. Before the movie was released, the film received a lot of criticism for this, by people who didn’t realize the film was actually satirizing the tons of movies and shows where 30-year-olds still pretend to be students.

It’s just one of the things you can learn by listening to the commentary track on the dvd, done by Will Gluck and Emma Stone. Easy A is one of the few examples where the commentary track is better than the film. Gluck and Stone don’t take the commentary too seriously and seem to have a lot of fun. Too much fun for the censorship committee, who occasionally stop the recording and tell the duo to start again. In the track this means you’ll hear a short pause, followed by the duo’s announcement that they are “back again”. Emma Stone occasionally jokes about the real and uncut commentary they’ll also record, which is why someone purchased this domain name. The duo also mention the many fights they had on the set: apparently the best way to communicate was by calling each other names. A bit like the “leaked” tantrum by Emma Stone in this clip then:

Listen carefully and you’ll hear Emma Stone laugh.
The commentary also singles out goofs and Gluck’s obsession with oranges (there’s apparently one in every scene) and makes it an easy task to sit through the film again.

Which is oddly enough not always how I felt during my initial viewing of the film as some of Easy A feels too artificial. Maybe it would’ve helped if I’d known the film wants to be a moral commentary rather than a modern comedy version of a classic novel. Keep that in mind if you want to watch it and there’s no reason why not to. It even allows you to access the bonus treat: the commentary track.

7.5/10 (My initial score was 7, but time and the commentary track have forced me to be more kind. Now there’s a first…)

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One thought on “Easy A

  1. deeopey August 11, 2011 / 08:44

    Yup I agree with most of that. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how much it subverted the standard high-school comedy.

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