Easy A: A Showcase & A Time Capsule
2010, R, 1 hour, 32 minutes. Available on Netflix, Comedy/Romance
In a sentence: An absurd plot mixed with an impressive cast and a stellar performance from Emma Stone create a witty movie that’s one of (if not the) best teen movies from the 2010s.
Let me start by acknowledging how unusual the plot is. The movie centers around a lonely teenage girl becoming an outcast after being shamed and bullied about losing her virginity. Not exactly Ferris Bueller's Day Off material. With that said, Emma Stone brings a certain sense of perky wit and sarcasm that makes the journey enjoyable and pleasant.
What makes Easy A an enjoyable movie is the consistent presence of witty dialogue. The actors definitely bring the lines to life with their body language, tone, and delivery - but interspersed in this review are some notable one-liners and quotes that highlight my favorite moments of wit from the movie.
“No judgment, but you look like a stripper.”
“A high-end stripper. For governors or athletes.”
At least for me, I found several laugh-out-loud moments throughout the duration of the film. My favorite was Woodchuck Todd (Penn Badgely) in the mascot flashback early in the film, but there are great scenes and lines from start to finish.
“Let me just begin by saying that there are two sides to every story. This is my side, the right one.”
Emma Stone Charm
Let me reiterate, this is a full-on Emma Stone showcase. If you enjoy Emma Stone’s quirky, fun-loving spirit, you will like this movie.
When it comes to teen movies, two characters that you immediately think of are the “best friend” and the “love interest.” Where a Superbad or Booksmart may have the lead share a decent amount of screentime going on adventures alongside the best friend or having an intimate moment with the love interest, Easy A substitutes these moments for just more Emma Stone (primarily by herself). In other words, Easy A diverges from the traditional model seen in other great teen movies. It’s not so much subverting these classic expectations as it is more neglecting them.
The story of Olive Pendergast is very much an individual story - no one believers her, it was her lie, it’s her job to get out of the situation. Olive’s best friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) is the main reason Olive is forced to lie. Then not only does she not stand by Olive, she instead turns against Olive. Barring the slightly questionable relationship between the two (how can Rhiannon be Olive’s best friend despite her repeatedly not believing or supporting her?), there is no sense of friendship or a teammate Olive can rely on during her journey.
Additionally, the relation to the love-interest (Woodchuck Todd, played by Gossip Girl star Penn Badgely) felt fabricated and rushed.
“Your father is as straight as they come, a little too straight if you know what I mean, girlfriend”
“I don’t, can you shut the door please.”
Can a cast be too strong?
Overall, Easy A moves at a strong pace (less than 90 minutes of actual movie content) and feels light-hearted even though the underlying plot is disturbing. Highlighted by Stanley Tucci, the supporting cast is fun. The cast is excellent on paper - but with Emma Stone dominating the screen time, you rarely get a notable amount of scenes from any of the supporting characters. As mentioned before, Penn Badgley’s Woodchuck Todd character arc felt tossed in. For serving as the main antagonist, Amanda Bynes isn’t in as much of the movie as you would think.
I will give them credit though - the proven comedy background and/or general likeability of each supporting cast member keeps the tone of the movie light in the face of the serious nature of the material, especially in the third act when Olive faces serious accusations of chlamydia. For example, if the priest Olive goes to seek advice from was portrayed by a more serious-looking actor (instead of Saturday Night Live legend Fred Armistain), there might be a more true somber tone.
Despite the supporting cast feeling like a missed opportunity, they in no way detract from Emma Stone’s Olive Penderghast. They compliment her in their own refreshing, albeit limited, ways.
Supporting Cast Power Rankings:
Thomas Haden Church
“Just once I want my life to be like an 80's movie, preferably one with a really awesome musical number for no apparent reason. But no, no, John Hughes did not direct my life.”
There are several bops in the soundtrack. Unfortunately, there are no “Aly and AJ” songs despite Aly playing Rhiannon in the film. Definitely add some of these top tracks to your playlist:
Pocket Full of Sunshine - Natasha Bedingfield
Sexy Silk (From “Easy A) - The Hollywood Soundtrack Band
Don’t Cha - The Pussycat Dolls, Busta Rhymes
Bad Reputation - Avril Lavigne
Good Life - OneRepublic
Change of seasons - Sweet Thing
Knock On Wood - Amii Steward
Complete Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/5y4GjBfoBhk4C7Bbjspr3Z?si=3v27nE3rRNCSqTmwMIzVkA
“New Honey Chicken at Quiznos.”
“Not now, Quiznos.”
“You’re a slut”
The Ringer’s The Rewatchables podcast covered the movie in September of last year and had some interesting takes on the movie. They mentioned that the Chlamydia plotline was unnecessary. I think it was definitely extreme but upon further review, I believe it was actually needed to escalate the story. If you enjoy Easy A and what to hear more people’s thoughts on it, the podcast is definitely worth a listen.
“I don’t know what your generation’s fascination is with documenting your every thought but I can assure you they’re not all diamonds.”
Quasi-Social Media: 2010 vs 2021
Easy A was released in 2010 when the iPhone was barely two years old. It’d be an understatement to say that the technology is outdated in comparison to today’s modern social media landscape. I’ll cede that the movie was ahead of its time with the vlogging narration, but the actual teenager dynamic would be completely different if the story was to happen in 2021.
It’s hard to determine exactly how the story would play out in today’s social media landscape, but I have two theories that could make it both easier and more difficult for Olive:
1) The lie would be revealed sooner:
You could not make up a fake person in today’s Instagram/texting world longer than one day. The movie would be over instantly since everyone would ask to see the person via FaceTime or see their Snapmoji location.
2) Social media bullying would be much worse
If the fake person was to be believed by 2021 Olive’s peers, there is the unfortunate possibility that her harassment would extend beyond school and be much, much worse.