As far as high school comedies are concerned, a highlight of the past couple of years is Easy A, starring the amazing Emma Stone. Well written, witty and observational, the film explores the realities of high school with the emergence of social media, and the speed at which rumours can spread in this day and age.
Having always been a good student, Olive Penderghast has pretty much remained under the radar throughout her high school career – until now. After a misguided attempt to impress her pushy best friend Rhiannon, Olive finds herself at the centre of the school’s rumour mill, with every guy in the school seeking her out, and every girl in the school judging her. After pretending to have lost her virginity to a non-existent college guy named George, a discussion with Rhiannon which is overheard in the school toilets by super-religious fellow student Marianne, the entire school is texting, Facebooking and whispering in class about Olive’s fictional sex life. Of course, as is par for the course with rumours, the original lie told to Rhiannon becomes wildly exaggerated.
Things take a turn for the worse when Olive confesses to her tormented gay friend Brandon that it never really happened, and Brandon becomes the first of a string of single, shy, and often bullied teenage boys who turn to her for help, asking her to once again lie about her sexual conquests (and, crazier still, they are willing to pay for it) in the hope that the more popular guys in school will then accept them and leave them alone if they think they’ve had an encounter with the now infamous Olive. With this, her life begins to spiral out of control, and before she knows it, she has her parents and teachers worried, has become ostracised from her best friend and what began as a simple ‘favour’ to some mistreated high-schoolers begins to take its toll on her reputation and her relationships with the people closest to her.
The storyline of this film is extremely apt 21st century movie material. With social networking taking over the world, and young people in high school and college/uni at the forefront of exploring this still relatively new method of communication, Easy A shows the downside to this sort of technology. It also highlights the pettiness and ridiculousness of the rumour mill whilst showing how important it is to be yourself and not get caught up in trying to impress your peers – as Olive finds out, this can only lead to disaster.
The cast is the absolute highlight of the film. Emma Stone is absolutely fantastic as Olive – she is sharp and funny and she keeps the character completely believable and grounded in the midst of all the insanity that suddenly surrounds her. Equally impressive are the amazing Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as her doting and hilariously eccentric parents. Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley also excels as Olive’s long-time crush Todd, a confident but slightly quirky guy in her class who refuses to believe the lies about Olive, even when her best friend does. He is absolutely not your typical teen movie love interest – sure, he’s attractive, but his character isn’t the popular guy who every girl is in love with, nor is he the shy, overlooked friend who the girl will realise has been in love with her all along. He’s completely comfortable with himself, acting as the school basketball team’s incredibly uninventive mascot (a wood-chuck, or groundhog), but remains effortlessly cool and liked by everyone, and never comes across as concerned about what people think of him. The romance that develops here is definitely refreshing in terms of this genre of film.
Easy A is available on DVD now, and is definitely worth a watch. It’s a hilarious and well observed account of high school ‘Chinese whispers’, and, even if teen comedy flicks aren’t normally your thing, give this one a go. It might just change your mind!