Today was a pretty dull day here, and I decided I needed something to occupy my time with. Thankfully, Netflix came to the rescue by providing me with a pretty easy outlet. The movie I decided to watch today was the Screen Gems picture Easy A. The movie, rated PG-13, stars Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Penn Badgley, Thomas Haden church, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, and Stanley Tucci. The movie is a VERY loose retelling of The Scarlet Letter, and it has all the makings of what could be a teen classic akin to some of the classics of the 80s, but it could also be a disaster like the infamous films of the 90s. Which does it hit? Only one way to find out.
Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone) is a bit of an average teenager. She spends most of her days hanging out with her friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka), enjoying the lessons from her favorite teacher Mr. Griffith (Thomas Haden Church), and being relatively ignored by the student body. One day, Rhiannon asks her to go camping trip, but instead of saying no, she says she has a date with a college friend of her older brothers. The following Monday, she lied and told Rhiannon that they slept together instead of spending her weekend in her bedroom. This story is heard by the school Christian zealot, Marianne Bryant (Amanda Bynes), and she begins to spread the story throughout the school. Eventually, word gets to Brandon (Dan Byrd), a closeted homosexual. Brandon pleads with Olive to pretend to sleep with him to help with his reputation. She reluctantly agrees, and they fake the deed at a house party. Eventually, word gets around that she’s the go-to girl for boosting their reputations, and Olive is stuck trying to keep up the act.
So, what worked in this movie…well, for starters, Emma Stone has a great comedic wit to her. I also liked the interaction she had with Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci who play her parents. Thomas Haden Church is a bit underused in this film, but it’s not his place to be the scene stealer, and his character works. Penn Badgley has a rather miniscule role, and his stuff with Emma Stone is endearing, but he fills the role of the resident cute guy, so he’s not really expected to do much. Another rather funny character was her adopted black brother Chip, who was played by Bryce Clyde Jenkins. He didn’t have a whole lot of scenes in the movie, but the scenes he had were great. In fact, one of his best scenes came with Stanley Tucci.
What didn’t work? Well, I really didn’t like Amanda Bynes’ character. She is an incredible zealot, and horrifically annoying. I wanted to punch a kitten every time she was on the screen, and I wanted to step on that same kitten whenever she opened her mouth. That being said, a lot of Christian zealots act pretty similar to the way Bynes did, so I guess it fits. Also, I wasn’t too fond of the necessity to throw a song and dance in near the end of the movie. In fact, it was quite annoying. And, finally…can’t Malcolm McDowell sit his ass down somewhere? He always seems to find himself in everything imaginable. It’s almost as if he’s standing on a street corner with a sign saying “Will Act For Food.” I understand everyone needs a hobby, but good grief!
The movie was directed by Will Gluck, and I have to be honest here…I have no earthly idea who he is. Looking at some of his stuff on his Wikipedia page, I still have no earthly idea who he is. From the looks of things, he’s a comedic director and writer, so I guess he’s okay. The score was completely infinitesimal, and it doesn’t even bear mentioning here.
This was a fairly entertaining movie. It had its laugh out loud moments, and I kind of sympathized with Olive’s plight; she never got any real attention early on, but the attention she ended up getting was the kind she didn’t want. In the grand scheme of things, it had some pretty healthy throwbacks to movies of old (Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Can’t Buy Me Love, and Say Anything), as well as a pretty interesting setup (The Scarlet Letter – 1934) and an even better payoff (The Scarlet Letter – 1995). In the end, this was a very good movie that was about a stone’s throw away from being a great movie. So, I feel comfortable enough to rate this film four times More Epic Than Love Jones. I’m not mad that I watched it, and I wouldn’t have a problem watching it again.
It was certainly worth the wait.