Easy A (2010)
February 15, 2024 1:34 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Prompted by her popular best friend to spill details of her boring weekend, Olive (Emma Stone), a clean-cut teen, decides to spice things up by telling a little lie about losing her virginity. When the high-school busybody (Amanda Bynes) overhears the conversation and spreads it all over campus, Olive is suddenly notorious but for the wrong reasons.

Starring Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, Aly Michalka, Stanley Tucci.

Directed by Will Gluck. Written by Bert V. Royal. Produced by Zanne Devine, Will Gluck for Screen Gems/Sony. Cinematography by Michael Grady. Edited by Susan Littenberg. Music by Brad Segal.

85% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have so many conflicting feelings about this!

Emma Stone is a delight! And I'm inclined to love her because I'm also a fellow fake redhead. Olive, as a character, is so funny and cool. Her parents are hilarious. This movie has charms for days. But ...

Look, I understand we have a long complicated relationship with teenage girls and their sexuality as a society since ... I don't know, the beginning of human history. But my problem with this movie is that it wants to have it both ways. It wants to explore "slut-shaming" without Olive doing any of the things people think she's doing. And yeah, I think it would be a much darker (and weirder and more uncomfortable) movie if Olive actually did all of the things people thought she was doing. But that Olive is, in the reality of this movie, a virgin, makes this all just feel weird to me.

It's like it's good that she's not having sex and it's bad she's pretending to but it's also bad people are mad at her for pretending she's having sex! I'm not quite sure what the actual message is supposed to be.

I have watched this a few times now and I loved it the first time but I don't know if it's aged particularly well. But much like Carrie (any of them, and yes, weird comparison, but hear me out), I don't know if you can take away the problematic parts and still have the story work. Because then it's a completely different story.
posted by edencosmic at 5:25 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]

patricia clarkson and stanley tucci TAKE ME AWAAAY, A SECRET PLAAAACE, A SWEET ESCAAAAPE
posted by bcwinters at 7:33 PM on February 15

I happened to re-watch this recently, and I actually think it's aged pretty well. Edencosmic, I totally understand your discomfort with the movie trying to "have it both ways," but I actually read that as feature, not a bug. Teenage girls can't win no matter what they do. Have sex, you're a slut. Don't have sex, you're a loser. Either way, Olive's peers see themselves as entitled to know, and judge, her and others' sexual status. What's more, the fact that Olive doesn't actually have sex in the movie - and that even her self-described "super slut" best friend seems to be a virgin, too - highlights that there is no escaping the judgment and slut-shaming of our culture.

The movie definitely portrays Olive as being more likable because we know she isn't really having sex and is just trying to be nice to fellow outsiders/unpopular kids. But our own complicity in this system of judging teens' sexual behavior is highlighted by the framing device of Olive talking directly to the audience. Only near the end do you realize that we as the audience have been placed in the shoes of her peers, who she convinced to watch her confession by teasing it as possibly being a sex video. Then the movie ends with Olive specifically telling the audience/us that she might have sex, or might not. How do we judge her then? I think we're meant to question why we find it easier to like her knowing that she didn't really have sex with a bunch of folks.

Not for nothing, but this movie was also made in the middle of what has been three decades of steadily declining rates of teen sex -- from 54% of all highschoolers in 1991 saying they had had sex, down to just 30% in 2021 (see summary based on CDC data). I find it pretty refreshing to see a teen sex movie that reflects that, well, most kids in high school *aren't* having sex. Contrast that to, say, 1995's Clueless, where all three main female characters have had sex by age 15 or 16.

Easy A definitely exists in a very specific time period, and it makes some choices that probably wouldn't survive today. Thomas Hayden Church's "cool teacher" seems like a caricature of a teacher who in the third act will be revealed to be a predator, but instead it's Lisa Kudrow, who provides a messy (and ultimately unchallenged) self-justification that the student was legally an adult. She doesn't even get fired. Amanda Bynes' self-righteous Christianity seems almost quaint compared to the more destructive and hateful tendencies that today's moral crusaders bring to our schools.

But all in all, I think it's a surprisingly complex treatment of teen sex culture, wrapped in an absolutely delightful package. Olive's relationship and trust with her parents is genuinely heartwarming. Emma Stone is charming, and her little brother is very cute. Stanley Tucci, Patricia Clarkson, and Amanda Bynes are particularly hilarious.
posted by alligatorpear at 2:37 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]

Spell it with your peas! This movie made me love Stanley Tucci.

Also I can't even think about the movie without instantly getting Change of Seasons and/or Pocketful of Sunshine stuck in my head. Not the worst thing in the world. Bringing the really insightful comments here.
posted by pianissimo at 3:36 AM on March 7

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