Easy A

I have a soft spot for movies and TV programs about the politics of high school; Easy A heavily references The Scarlet Letter as well as older teen comedies, and possesses some extremely sharp writing. The movie is about a character who accidentally becomes known as “the school slut” (supposedly having sex once) and becomes popular as a result. Through her quixotic actions her lies grow and the whole thing backfires, of course.

The cast is great: I like Malcolm McDowell and Stanley Tucci, and Emma Stone, Lisa Kudrow, and Patricia Clarkson were fantastic. However the movie didn’t frame their exaggerated personalities properly, and several times I couldn’t tell if they were serious (as a semi-caricature) or joking around. This is a weakness of the direction, or perhaps the writing.

Despite extremely witty dialogue, many of the characters are phenomenally shallow – Amanda Bynes’s role is the obvious example. The caricature doesn’t sit well next to personalities such as the funny, understanding, progressive and open-minded parents (who could be caricatures at the other extreme) or Kudrow’s layered character. Similarly, characters exhibit a great deal of “sex is bad” and “don’t say ‘twat'” prudery yet the movie is very open about the topic.

At a higher level, Stone’s extremely precocious  protagonist is supposed to be exploring the consequences of her actions, but characters’ actions and behaviours become more far-fetched as the story progresses, culminating in a resolution where the audience is meant to take everything as solved.

Despite these problems, I enjoyed the movie. The direction was dynamic and colourful, particularly the way rumour-spread was depicted, and the witty lines were a pleasure.

(I was distracted by the school’s original use of the Blue Devils (which I thought was used by the Duke University basketball team), but Wikipedia assures me that they refer to a French WWI infantry battalion.)

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