Today is the 6th of November, which means it is the birthday of Emma Stone, who if you didn’t know, is my absolute favourite actress and one of my favourite people. I think she is incredibly talented and beautiful, comes across as very ‘real’ and a lovely person, and she’s one of those people who is naturally hilarious. To celebrate, I decided to revisit my favourite of her films, the 2010 teen comedy Easy A and rediscovered for the nth time why it is one of my all-time favourite films. Warning: Full spoilers and extreme hyperboles may follow.
What makes a good comedy film, particularly one with a demographic of teenagers and young adults? Obviously, it has to be funny, or at the very least it has to be able to let its audience know that it’s supposed to be funny. Comedy is a very subjective genre, senses of humour are personal, you’re not going to enjoy all types of comedy, so at the very least, while you may not personally enjoy a comedic piece of media, you should be able to tell why someone would. Secondly, and arguably equally or more importantly, it has to provide some sort of moral or message. These are the years where hormones are out of control, temptations are kinda weird, you’re confused with what you want in life, and you’re likely to do stupid things for whatever reason. It’s also the years where stereotypically you feel quite rebellious. You’re growing up and becoming your own person, and while you may not listen to anybody but yourself (which can at times be a good thing, don’t get me wrong), you’re still learning. The media is a very useful way of teaching these messages and morals you may not listen to from anyone else. Easy A, does both magnificently, while also being a really enjoyable film, with an excellent cast, great direction, and a nice soundtrack. It’s hardly the best film ever made objectively, but it’s one of my all time favourites.
So what’s it about? Easy A tells the story of Olive Penderghast, a 17-year-old girl who lies to her best friend about losing her virginity to a guy at a community college. This is overheard by the devout-Christian mean girl Marianne, who then goes on to spread the rumour throughout her entire school. Suddenly, the unnoticeable girl is the talking point throughout the school, and while she at first likes the attention, for the sole reason that “she’s at least being thought of”, it gets worse as the lies go on. Suddenly, she’s the school’s new slut, and she has to deal with the consequences.
Let’s start with the film’s greatest strength, which for me is unsurprisingly its lead actress played by the loveable Emma Stone. Olive is in some ways, is more or less is a fictionalised version of herself, seriously, a perfect casting if you ever saw one. Easy A makes full use of her and is aware that she is the film’s greatest strength, as she’s in pretty much every single scene, and steals the entire film. Stone is a natural born comic, and her line delivery and facial expressions are absolutely pitch perfect when they’re meant to be. There’s a reason why there’re so many GIFs of her from this film across the internet, as her reactions to the world going on around her, are both absolutely hilarious and wonderfully naturalistic. Pretty much every single line from her is perfectly delivered, and I can see why WatchMojo chose this film as her greatest performance. It’s her film, the reason why it is as funny as it is.
However, as phenomenal as Stone’s comedic performance in this film here, she also proves that she’s a really good straight actress too. In particular is the scene where she breaks down in the confession box. Stone plays it so naturally and so powerfully that it’s beautiful. The same applies when she’s crying in the car. Stone plays everything really naturally, in such a way that you too feel sad for watching her cry. She makes you sympathise with the character, you feel sad when she’s sad, happy when she’s happy, and she’s really likeable throughout. I’m probably biased, but I honestly cannot pin down a weak moment from her. If you ever need a justification on how brilliant, varied, enjoyable an actor she is, and why she’s my all time favourite then please watch this film.
Though Stone is the obvious highlight, I have to say that the entire cast is brilliant. In particular is Amanda Bynes, as the bitchy Christian mean girl. Bynes again has an excellent range of facial expressions and line delivery, the scenes with her and Stone together are an absolute treat, so brilliantly sassy that they have me in stitches. Again, the casting is perfect, and she’s one of those characters who is so much of a bitch, she’s really fun to watch on screen. With a performance like this, it’s even sadder she went off the rails in her personal life (though it’s kind of unintentionally amusing that Bynes is trying to educate Stone, a much cleaner-living person, about how to live properly).
Though Stone and Bynes are my two favourites, I do have to say that every member of the cast is enjoyable and well cast. If I had to pin down a third favourite, it would be Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci as Olive’s eccentric but caring parents, who as well make every scene they are in an absolute pleasure to watch.
I think though it is fair to say that the script is very funny on its own. Of course, it’s helped by its loveable cast and their stellar performances, but even without them, I think the script is hilarious on its own. I honestly find it one of the most quotable films out there, if not the most for me personally (this blog’s tagline even comes from the film), and the dialogue is very brilliantly quick, snappy, and simply hilarious.
Let’s now go onto the themes of the film. Easy A is far from a deep film, but it’s certainly detailed, and it’s messages are very present. Like The Scarlet Letter that inspired it (which I haven’t read. I should watch the movie, but not the version where Demi Moore takes a lot of baths and talks in a fake British accent), the film is about sin and redemption. The sin here being the lying, not necessarily the “having sex”, which is a very modern message. The film essentially teaches that it the most amazing thing about who you have sex with is that it’s “nobody’s goddamn business”, a message I personally agree with. The film also talks about the consequences of lying, and that you should try and make things better rather than “dealing with the consequences”. There’s also a just attack on the judgement on religion, and Bynes face in the final scene when she’s watching Olive admitting her fault via the internet, is perfect. The guilt in her expression really makes you sit up. There’s also a nice bit of girl vs boy social commentary here, and society’s attitudes concerning sex. When Brandon, the homosexual guy (played by Dan Byrd), comes out of having fake sex with Olive, he is cheered and applauded by his fellow guys. Olive, on the other hand, is shamed, abused, and treated awfully throughout the entire film. As I said before, the final scene is brilliant. The guilt in the relevant characters faces, both of Bynes’ and Aly Michalka’s (who plays best friend Rhiannon) are really powerful, as is the look of care on Mr Griffith’s (Thomas Haden Church).
On a production level, admittedly this film isn’t anything spectacular. Will Gluck’s direction is very good, but it’s not Oscar worthy or anything. However, he is very good at using appropriate shots for the context, and he uses some really interesting ones too. In particular is the continuous shot which opens the film (after the title, the first few are appropriately establishing shots) which searches the school for about a minute as Stone reads out that “if Google Earth was a guy, he couldn’t find me if I was dressed up as a ten storey building” is brilliantly clever. Another really good thing is the soundtrack, with Easy A not using a score in favour of poppier, lyrical songs, more appropriate for its genre. I trust you that you will have Sweet Thing’s “Change of Seasons” (which opens the film and plays again towards the end, the dah dah-dah-dah dah one) and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocketful of Sunshine” stuck in your head for the rest of the day, if not week, after watching.
Nice to hear Simple Mind’s “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” too. It’s very clear that the film is inspired by John Hughes’ work, making no secret of the fact, and the final scene contains all of the things Penderghast hoped for in her “Why can’t my life be like an 80s movie” scene earlier in the film, providing a nice link.
Stone herself even gets an “awesome musical number”. Singing Knock on Wood, which is a lot of fun.
Overall, I honestly think Easy A is pretty perfect. It’s hilarious, a lot of fun, and has a stellar cast. It’s one of the most enjoyable and rewatchable films I have ever seen. I love it, a film I treasure so much. If you like teen comedies, or Emma Stone, and haven’t seen this one, then I would check it out. You may not as love it as much as I do, but I do think it’s a film which you’d enjoy if you like Stone or team comedies. It’s a rightful place on my “favourite films of all times” list, and the sort of film I would watch all day if I could.
It’s a shame that I use numbers to rate things instead of letters because otherwise, it would be an Easy A from me.
(Happy Birthday Emma Stone)