Friday, January 14, 2011

Easy A

So, yes. I, a heterosexual male, decided to go out on a limb and watch this movie, by myself, because it got good reviews. The first ten minutes were painful, I admit. There I was, watching a movie about a high school girl who tells a lie about losing her virginity in order to, in a fashion, become the most popular girl in the school. Sounds like a teen chick flick, doesn't it? I did my best to swallow my pride and wait it out, to see if the movie in its entirety would show me that I had not lost my masculinity.

And then I forgot I was a man.

No, I'm not saying that this movie messed up my sense of gender identity. Instead I'm saying that after, I don't know, the first fifteen to twenty minutes, I didn't feel embarrassed anymore. On the contrary, I completely forgot about my ridiculous little dilemma and actually found myself enjoying the movie.

A Time Where Popularity Was Everything

I can remember that time in high school where being known by the right people was all one wanted to aspire to. I also remember how inserting the right lie here or there could increase those chances of being noticed; I won't go into it in detail, but in high school I told a little lie of my own that blossomed into everyone in the theater department knowing me and talking to me. I thought that to be a pretty creative way to trick everyone, and it worked brilliantly. Because of this experience, I was able to better understand where Olive, the main character of Easy A, was coming from.

However, Olive's lie is far more grander in scale than mine was. Olive determines rightly that rumors of sex receive the most attention in high school and decides to, at first inadvertently, spread the false rumor that she is a slut who sleeps around. Predictably, this brings her a great deal of attention that is both good and bad; she is finally being noticed by a lot of people, but not really in a good way. Being considered someone who gets around brings her respect, but only the kind that comes with notoriety. A big part of the movie is determining whether the popularity she finds through the lie is worth it or not.

Not Your Typical Comedy

Another thing I adored about this movie was that it managed to steer clear of the irritatingly unnecessary raunchiness that I feel has taken over comedies these days. I'm looking at you The Hangover, Forty Year Old Virgin and every-comedy-with-Seth-Rogen. While being a movie based around the premise of being a high school slut, Easy A actually turns out to be a pretty intelligent movie with interesting points on popularity, kindness, and about whether making such a huge deal about sex is really necessary. Ours is a culture that inexplicably finds violence and death okay but sex as taboo, and Easy A is a movie that brought that odd fact to my attention once again.

Another strength of Easy A lies with its cast. I've never seen Emma Stone before (the actress who plays the main character, Olive), but I found her absolutely hilarious. Maybe she was blessed by a screenwriter who was able to harness her sense of humor perfectly, or maybe she is just that good, but I found her to steal the scene from pretty much everyone else in the movie, with the exception of her parents. Her parents are a barrel full of laughs on their own; I can see myself acting like her dad does when I get to that point in my life. The only characters that were irritating were the ones who felt like they were supposed to be irritating, so I can't tell if that is a good thing or not. But, on the whole, I found the acting exceptional and hilarious; a perfect companion to a surprisingly interesting and funny story.


So, to my surprise, I found myself loving this movie. My masculinity emerged intact, and I patted myself on the back for being willing to risk it. It paid off.

P.S. - The title Easy A is essentially a reference to the book The Scarlet Letter, where a woman is ostracized from her community and branded with a red "A" because she is an adulterer. In this movie, Olive chooses to wear the A as part of her welcoming the attention, not shying away from it.

Worth Buying and Watching... Multiple Times


  1. Funny you should mention the parents. I thought their quirky humor was the most endearing part of the movie. I also felt the dialogues in the movie about The Scarlet Letter were a bit on the nose, since the title would have been subtle enough.

    Through no fault of the movie or its writing, I found myself straining to sympathize with the main character when her lies finally spiraled out of control, causing her grief. Could she have gained the same level of popularity without creating a false persona?

  2. That is an interesting question. The thing is that at no time during the movie do we get the sense that she was some sort of social recluse before the 'Easy A' shenanigans, so it is a little hard to believe that she wouldn't have been popular without relying on being called a skank. Maybe if they had done a better job of making her look more isolated/introverted...

    As for when her lies spiral out of control, it really was her own damn fault, so it IS hard to sympathize with her. At the same time though, I remember how decisions I've made before which I'd thought I had control over seemed to cascade out of my grasp. Not sure if that made sense, but I understand how lost one can feel when you feel like you have a bead on a situation, only for that impression to have been false, and for you to have little control at all. Thus, while I wasn't quite able to sympathize with her, since a number of the decisions she made were idiotic ones (agreeing to sell her fictional body for sex, agreeing to have chlamydia), I WAS able to empathize with her when it all seemed to spiral out of control.

    But yeah, the parents were the best part of the movie. I'm totally with you there.