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Easy A (2010)

by on 2011/02/04

“Hell is there. Right below our feet, above the Orient.”

There was something about my second viewing of Easy A that put me in mind of the GREATEST PHILOSOPHER OF OUR TIME, conservative political commentator Bill O’Reilly. The tides go in, the tides go out, ergo, there’s a big, white-bearded man in the sky who we can send our wishes to and they come true. Joy.

Also there’s a moon. I certainly didn’t mold it out of cheese and shoot it up there with an enormous catapult, therefore ….There. Must. Be. A. GOD.

OMG.

Testify, Bill.

My best teen pal Miss_Tree had been dying to see Easy A, with increasingly histrionic requests as to when I might be purchasing the movie -theonlymovieinthewholewideworldshewantedtoseethatshemightdiewithout. Puff.

Easy A is a story of the hell that is high school, hypocrisy, the religious right, and sex and the teenage girl. Well, fake sex at any rate.

Like Mr. O’Reilly, Easy A has intolerance, misinformation and silliness in abundance.

All the “teens” in this film deliver youth-accessible David Mamet-style dialogue clearly written by someone just about exactly my age – given all the 80s references. But when your parents are giddy hipsters played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, you’d probably talk like charming, glib film protagonist Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) too.

Exhibit A:

Boy: Should I still bring the Sylvia Plath?

Olive: We can stick our heads in the oven if we run out of things to talk about.

The action starts with a lie. Or as Olive describes it: a “terminological inexactitude.” She lies to get out of a camping trip with her best friend and her friend’s nudist, hippie parents. She concocts a fictional college freshman, George, that she claims to have spent the weekend with.

This “terminological inexactitude” is overheard by the head of the conservative religious group at school and the lie catches fire like the proverbial burning bush.

From then on, Olive becomes absolutely fascinating to the opposite sex and a harlot pariah to the powerful religious faction on campus. When she’s sent to detention for calling the queen of her tormentors, Marianne (Amanda Bynes), an “abominable *rhymes with* swat,” she finds out she is not alone in her suffering. Fellow outcast Brandon (Dan Byrd) shares that he is bullied and abused daily for being gay.

In a heart-breaking speech, Brandon begs Olive to pretend to have sex with him. “I’ll pretend to be straight until I get out of this hell hole, I don’t want to be pushed into sh*t every day. It is like being suffocated …it sucks.”

Olive, being Olive, agrees. “Tell everyone I was sensational.” Brandon and Olive commit the fake act – loudly – at an all-students house party.

Spurred on by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, Olive wears a black bustier with a scarlet letter on it to school in an act of post-modern irony. The prayer circles start praying overtime for her.

Then Olive starts fake pimping herself out to other high school outcasts for Panda Express, Gap and amazon.com gift certificates. Eventually she’s dickered down to coupons for soap at Bath Works.

“I always thought that pretending to lose my virginity would be more …special. Judy Blume should have prepared me for that.”

Her escalating fake promiscuity catches the notice of school administrators. Clockwork Orange’s Malcolm McDowell plays the principal, delivering too-clever-by-half lines, like: “This is public school. If I can keep the girls off the pole and boys off the pipe, I get a bonus.”

Sideways‘ Thomas Haden Church plays Olive’s sympathetic English teacher. In the interests of full disclosure, I can’t really picture Mr. Church in anything but white tube socks and nothing… since seeing him in Sideways. Still he’s pretty great in this movie.

Not so great is his hateful wife and the school’s guidance counsellor Mrs. Griffith (Lisa Kudrow). She is sleeping with a student to whom she gives chlamydia. Unfortunately all of the seamy underbelly-type action of the school is blamed on the innocent Olive.

“Hester bore her punishment in humble silence. These are two concepts I am not comfortable with.”

Olive doesn’t pull a quietly-suffering Hester Prynne, and lashes back through the great cleansing power of social media.

Oh great Internet, is there anything you can’t do? Thank be to Mars moons that God created thee.

Emma Stone carries the day, with her undeniable cheeky charm. All this to say, Easy A is a lovely little film that will probably make baby Jesus cry.

* * *

92 minutes

Rated PG-13 for Lisa Kudrow with chlamydia, lingerie, simulated nooky and intolerant religious folks

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