Friday, July 6, 2012
A friend suggested I watch this movie, as it connects (in a slighter way than the filmmakers would have you believe) to The Scarlet Letter, which I'm currently re-reading. I saw it last night on cable, really late at night because I couldn't sleep (so why DVR it like normal people?), and I have to say that it was a very entertaining, witty, funny and intelligent (by comparison to movies of its type, for its audience) movie. I say this wholeheartedly, yet also with reservations. This is because--
--The main character, Olive Penderghast (a very good, smart and sassy Emma Stone), is so insecure about her high school social status that she agrees to lie about having sex (which Roger Ebert, in his review, calls "blissful congress") with several unpopular (and, later, quasi-popular) boys at school, including those who are gay, hairy and overweight, and just overall sad and downtrodden. This is icky in of itself, and severely implausible (especially to the movie's extent), but what makes this even more improbable is that Olive comes across as very, very, very smart, sassy, intelligent, and sure of herself, at least vocally. These two opposing personality traits do not mesh in this movie. A girl (or anyone) who acts so much to one extreme will not also act so much to the other extreme, often in the same minute. Not unless she's in a facility, or on heavy doses of meds. (It has to be said that the movie pulls this off very well and throws it away, but that's more because of Emma Stone's acting ability than it is the script.)
--Nobody's parents (a very good Patricia Clarkson and Stanley Tucci--and this role is a change for him, though not of his ability, as he's always good) are this awesome, smart, sassy, funny and just overall cool. Again, this movie gets away with this, but that's again because of the great acting of Clarkson, Tucci and Stone (this sounds like an expensive law firm), not because of the script. The mom even hears all of the yuckiness at the end, and tells her daughter how much of a tramp she used to be, and spreads and lifts her legs like a Rockette to prove it. They've adopted an African-American boy (whose job it is, apparently, to look befuddled) and they're also very verbally smart, sassy and funny. I say this last because, again, it is not probable that such people would raise a daughter to be as insecure as Stone's character needs to be to do what she does. This script, as written, could've only been a sassy success, as it was, or a crash-and-burn. The actors save it.
--The movie makes me feel old, as I was a teenager when Ferris Bueller, Say Anything, Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and others came out. There's a good line when Stone's character says she wishes her life had been directed by John Hughes (who didn't direct all of the films Easy A pays homage to, such as Can't Buy Me Love, the one where Patrick Dempsey drives off with The Girl on a lawnmower. That movie, incidentally, is about a nerdy guy who pays a girl to "date" him to become more popular in high school. There's no mention of sexy ickiness, as it's an innocent 80s film.) Easy A pays homage to all of these, and really does take the coolest parts of all of them to showcase. But, again, made me feel old. That's bad.
--Nobody's sons and daughters are as sassy and smart as the movie ones, and nobody's English teacher is that cool, either. I say this last with sadness. Sad, but true.
--Lastly, the connection to The Scarlet Letter really isn't there, no matter how fervently the movie says it is. Olive has not committed adultery, after all. Maybe she could've stitched on a big, red S--but that's already been done, though in a much different context. A W or T would've been okay, I guess. But I digress. Hester bears her sin and shame stoically, which Olive admits, but says she could never do. And Olive finally tells the truth at the end, while the crime in the book was known from page one. The book was about how the community gradually admits its own sin, and accepts Hester--though Hester ultimately refuses to be accepted. Olive comes clean at the end because she so desperately wants to be accepted again--very un-Hester. Olive's community, it is very clear, would never have forgiven and accepted her, as it's the sin that makes her popular to begin with. The American social strata would lovingly feed off that carcass for eternity.
Love that last sentence of mine. So true. But that's a blog entry for another day. So if you haven't seen it yet, do so, because at the end it's very smart, sassy and funny. Just don't overthink it like I just did.