Monday, January 31, 2011
Easy A (Film Thoughts and Mutterings)
On countless occasions I've openly shown my disgust for the genre of teen comedies. It's a personal bias that I myself have a difficulty shaking off. I'll be the first to admit that these films just don't seem to be made with someone like me in mind. All I can remember from Juno was the amount of smug dialogue that seemed to take me out of any sort of emotional reality that the film might have been trying to convey. Even in a comedy, I want to feel as if these characters exist. Juno never felt like a real character to me. Juno felt like a fabrication of the authors attempting to embody teen characteristics that they themselves don't entirely understand. There was such a strong feeling of disconnect between me and the character of Juno that I found myself completely incapable of buying into the 'admittedly' solid premise. The same can be said for Superbad and countless other films. Even The Breakfast Club had the tendency of completely rubbing me the wrong way, despite being crowned as a strong character study. Why do I always feel these films think they're self-important while simultaneously being of no true importance at all? I enjoy teen stories that don't make young people out to be 'the single most important beings on the face of the planet'. I find it neither interesting nor compelling when a group of teens start sitting around in a circle and talking about all of their hopes and dreams for the future, and yet continuously take no strides throughout the story to achieve those goals. Countless friends have told me that I need to lighten up and live a little, so I guess this is to be expected. I'm just not the kind of guy who likes teenagers. Last year, I was still considered to be one, and I'm very glad that I'm not now.
With all of that being said, you can imagine that Easy A is not the type of movie I would typically find myself enjoying. From the very moment I laid eyes on the film's trailer, I was just a tad disgusted with it. Having always been the type to judge a movie by its trailer (a nasty habit), the premise of a girl lying about sleeping around in order to gain attention and notireity seemed like the sort of trite Hollywood trash that I'd typically crinkle my little picky nose at. 'Oh goodie,' I thought. Another teen sex comedy. Who saw that one coming. For once, I'd like to see a film about teens that wasn't a musical or wasn't primarily focused around sex. Sure, sexuality may be the one thought that is always buzzing through our skulls around the age of seventeen, but does that mean that everything concerning young people has to be sexed up.
Whenever I hear a Lady Gaga song during a trailer, I almost feel like boycotting the film no matter what. If JJ Abram's does it in his next Super 8 trailer I might just be... a little conflicted.
I was a hypocrite. Still am a hypocrite, but I was probably being a complete and total hypocrite in the case of this particular film. I'm sorry Easy A, I judged you too early. You're not really that bad. In fact, we should be friends. We should totally be friends. Like totally.
This is the sort of film that ends up putting you in the shoes of a confused seventeen year old girl whether you want it to or not. No matter how much I struggled, no matter how hard I tried to pick the plot apart and discover all the cliches that laid underneath the structure, I ended up liking it. There, I said it. I liked it. You know why? Emma Stone. She is the secret weapon of this entire production. Somehow, that girl manages to take something that could have been truly godawful and makes it relatively entertaining and harmless. Take note actresses of America: if you take on a role in a relatively simple minded high school comedy, don't rest on your laurels. Sometimes, one single performance can make a movie. Emma Stone made Easy A. It's her movie just as much as it is the director's. She sells it.
The premise is almost taken directly from The Scarlet Letter, though the film doesn't bother to hide it in the slightest. In fact, it justifies the similarities between the two plots with a 'tongue in cheek' monologue about The Scarlett Letter and the plight of the main protagonist. You see, the Emma Stone character is in a real pickle. Having lied about losing her virginity, she suddenly finds herself becoming more popular than she would have ever dreamed. As is typical, she's a strikingly beautiful young girl who just seems to blend into the wood work. Don't question why someone with such great charm and looks can't manage to land a date, because the movie isn't going to either. It isn't until she begins to delve into the temptation of 'lying about sexual conquests' that she begins to become visible in her little high school bubble. The attention is intoxicating, and so she figures that maybe being a 'psuedo tramp' isn't such a bad idea. Naturally, this leads to a slippery slope which is only countered with brutal honesty and gained life lessons. You know, all that good stuff.
What did I take away from this story that I didn't usually get from other prior high school flicks that I've despised? Really... I can't really put my finger on it. It's the same batch of cliches and forced life lessons loosely gelled together with overly clever dialogue exchanges that I've seen dozens of times before. You know, the sorts of elements that make me want to bang my head against something. But in truth, this is a level of smugness that I'm able to handle. It's more along the lines of The Breakfast Club rather than more recent efforts like Mean Girls or Juno. Underneath it all, it's at least earnest. It doesn't pull very many punches, and it treats its target audience as intelligent individuals rather than easily amused moneybags. Simply put, Easy A has a story. It isn't the classiest of tales, but it isn't trying to be. It's just a simple morality story staring an incredibly likable actress with a relatively humorous script. I can imagine this shooting to the top of many teenage girls' 'top ten lists', and I'm sure that was the intention. If you're past the target demographic, I wouldn't suggest really looking into it but... it's alright. It's really alright. I'm not offended like I thought I would be.
Sure, I could be really snooty right now and express how it exploits more high school cliches than I can count on my fingers. I could just sit here and start talking about how it isn't art and if they wanted to 'really' get their message across they wouldn't have had the consequences of the main character's actions become so easily brushed away by the film's ending credits, but that would be missing the point. It's a cute movie for adolescents. It isn't Schindler's List.
Geekgasm Rating: 3 out of 5 (a fun performance by Emma Stone and some good ol' fashioned honesty sells what could have been 'just another teen movie')