To say that Easy A is a modern day update of The Scarlett Letter, is kind of like saying American Psycho is Crime and Punishment for the 21st century. Sure, someone got killed with an axe, but the similarities pretty much end there.
Yes, Emma Stone’s Olive is hounded by her peers for being slutty, perhaps unreasonably so, much like Hester Prynne from the novel, but other overlap with the book is scarce, and mostly forced like Olive deciding the wear a red letter “A” on every piece in her wardrobe.
But before becoming the school supertramp, Olive was a normal nobody, despite being the most gorgeous girl onscreen in any given shot. But all that changes one day, when to appease her nosy friend, makes up a story about how she lost her virginity to an imaginary boy over the weekend. This is overheard by the pious Marianna (Amanda Bynes), who spreads the falsehood around the school instantly.
This must be the only high school in California full of virgins, because the news of this “nobody” losing her V-card to some guy that doesn’t even go there soon becomes the news headline for the entire student body, and suddenly Oliva is in a red-tinted spotlight she never intended to have shone on her.
Note to filmmakers: Just because a girl has red hair and/or glasses that doesn’t make her “plain.”
But she decides to use her newfound powers of fake promiscuity for good. She pretend bangs a friend accused of being gay, and when the word spreads that Olive will fake-bang any nerd with a gift card as payment, she becomes the target of a million other rumors as every loser in the school is now claiming to have hooked up with her, and she agrees to back up all their stories.
The central question in my mind while watching all this unfold was “why?” Why would this girl do this? You could say it was because she was trying to be nice, and completely sacrifice her social reputation for the benefit of a handful of loveless losers, but really she sees it as a way to infamy, as she now finds it comforting to “at least be talked about.”
But then why is Olive shocked when a guy finally asks her on a real date, and ends the night offering her a $200 gift card for sex? Walking around in borderline lingerie and claiming she’s banged every guy in sight isn’t exactly going to make you a magnet for gentlemen, and will attract the kind of guy who is creepy enough to take advantage of the services you claim to be selling. As she bawls her eyes out, instead of feeling sorry for her, you just have to wonder, couldn’t she see this coming?
There are a myriad of tangled subplots in the film that don’t add anything particularly worthwhile. Amanda Bynes’ portrayal of uber Jesus freak Maryanne is especially annoying, as it’s far more caricature than a believable character, and even if there ARE Christian groups who sitting around singing hymns during lunch and holding picket signs calling a specific girl a slut, I highly doubt they’re the top of the social food chain at a public school.
“WOLVERINES!” Err wait, this is a different ’80s reference.
Willing suspension of disbelief only goes so far, and really, nothing in this movie seems remotely plausible. Not why any girl would do this, nor why she would think it would lead to anything other than disaster. About the time she says she’s willing to say she has chlamydia in order to protect an acquaintance, you just want to yell through the screen at her, “Why are you doing this?”
Outside of the central idea being thoroughly ridiculous Emma Stone does give a great performance. Her lines are witty, and her interactions especially with her exceptionally hip and lenient family were genuinely funny. Unfortunately, the rest of the film doesn’t follow suit.
Many comparisons will be made to Mean Girls with this film, in the style that it’s filmed and also its shared plot device of a pretty red-haired girl trying to get popular by dressing sluttier. But while that film found a way to flesh out its one-dimensional character archtypes and make them memorable as well as somewhat layered, Easy A is populated with caricatures, and Olive is the only rounded one of the bunch, though I’m not even sure I WANT to understand all of her layers.
Mean Girls flowed like a well oiled-machine, and was a chick flick that was genuinely entertaining to a mass audience. Easy A is clever in parts, but is just a strange movie, and one that seems very hard to be trying to teach a lesson, though I’m never sure what exactly that is. Sex is wrong? Lying about sex is wrong? Gossiping about lying about sex is wrong? I don’t even know where we end up in the end, and I don’t think the film does either.
2 out of 5 stars
Get it? BANG like SEX!