Easy A

Year: 2010
Production Co: Screen Gems
Director: Will Gluck
Writer: Bert V Royal
Cast: Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson, Stanley Tucci, Thomas Hayden Church, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell

It's very hard for me to respond to movies about teenagers and school age kids anymore. The first problem is the things that concern them when they have a free ride with food on the table and a roof over their heads are a universe away from the things that concern me.

The second problem is movies about kids are usually stupid movies about stupid people, especially if sex is the principal subject matter – which it usually is when it comes to movies about kids.

A small few movies break the mould, like Girl Next Door and now Easy A. Stone has the charm, presence and seeming intelligence to make the character of Olive believable.

The story is ostensibly about a girl who's just one of the crowd but who uses the prolific rumour mill of her high school to advance her social standing. When a story gets around that Olive has lost her virginity to a boyfriend (who's non-existent), she realises she might be onto something.

Then a gay guy at school who's sick of the bullying asks Olive if she'll help him convince everyone he's straight by pretending to have sex for the benefit of everyone listening at a party, and Olive's reputation is assured. She takes to wearing a red 'a' on her increasingly promiscuous outfits in solidarity with the character of The Scarlet Letter, which she's studying, but soon learns that being the sex kitten everyone assumes she is isn't it's all it's cracked up to be. Olive loses her best friend and then starts to lose her sense of self.

One of the great things about the film is the adult roles. Far from being faceless authority figures, Olive's elders are part of her life and shape who she is, their own circumstances weighing into what happens to her. Her relationship with her parents (Clarkson and Tucci) can be a little on the nose fake at times, but the plight of her English teacher (Church) and guidance counsellor (Kudrow) is so well drawn it gets a little heartbreaking.

There also seems to be a lot of subtext about the hysteria over how fragile and dangerous it is to be a teenager nowadays and how much sway evangelicalism Christianity has over schooling, the embodiment of which comes in Jesus freak Amanda Bynes, hating Olive for her behaviour while wanting to save her soul.

Proof positive for me it was a good movie is that I can't look back on it and isolate a cookie cutter moral of the story (other than waiting for the right time and the right boy), yet it was still a full and entertaining story.

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