When her brother decides to ditch for a couple weeks in London, Viola heads over to his elite boarding school, disguises herself as him, and proceeds to fall for one of her soccer teammates. Little does she realize she's not the only one with romantic troubles, as she, as he, gets in the middle of a series of intermingled love affairs.
A romantically challenged morning show producer is reluctantly embroiled in a series of outrageous tests by her chauvinistic correspondent to prove his theories on relationships and help ... See full summary »
Beca, a freshman at Barden University, is cajoled into joining The Bellas, her school's all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.
After a little white lie about losing her virginity gets out, a clean cut high school girl sees her life paralleling Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter," which she is currently studying in school - until she decides to use the rumor mill to advance her social and financial standing. Written by
The more I thought about "Easy A", the less I liked it. This is a shame, because while there's plenty to like about it, there's just as much to dislike. The movie is inspired by "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, which I'll admit, I never got around to studying in my A.P. English class. But I know the book is about adultery, which the movie has very little to do with. True, there is some adultery in the movie. But whenever the term is thrown around in the movie, it doesn't mean what the filmmakers seem to think it means. "Adultery", for the record, is when a married person sleeps with someone other than his or her spouse. Olive Penderghast, as played by Emma Stone, never sleeps with a married person. In fact, she never sleeps with anyone at all.
Instead, the plot starts when Olive invents a fictional boyfriend to get out of going camping with her best friend (Aly Michalka, currently starring on The CW's "Hellcats") and her bizarre parents. Soon, the rumor mill starts churning, and extra-virgin Olive gets a reputation as the kind of girl who "puts out." Moral of the story: gossip is bad. But it doesn't end there. Olive's goals as a protagonist are unclear. Confusingly, she alternates each scene between trying to dispel the rumor and trying to fuel it. You see, no one paid attention to poor Olive when they thought she was a virgin. Because she's too smart. Or nerdy. Or something. Never mind that guys everywhere would be tripping over themselves noticing her because she looks exactly like Emma Stone. Of course, the cliché of the beautiful nerd who everyone ignores has been used in countless movies before. But at least they usually put a pair of glasses on her and give her a funny hairdo until her "transformation." In "Easy A", gorgeous Emma Stone always looks like gorgeous Emma Stone.
Of course, it could easily have been a plot point that guys won't talk to Olive because she chooses to be a virgin. But again the character waffles between being a virgin because she's "not that kind of girl" and just being a virgin because guys won't talk to her. Anyway, the movie is framed as a web-cast in which Olive bares her soul to her entire high school. Because we're expected to believe that high schoolers spend their free time watching their classmates' web-casts. Or that two hours of confession will convince them of anything other than Olive's desperation for attention.
Leading Olive's persecution is Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the head of the high school's Bible study. Because in the "Easy A" universe, Christians are the scum of society. Nazis in any given movie set during WWII are portrayed more sympathetically than Christians are here. Amanda Bynes' character spews out ignorance and hatred while her cohorts nod and strum praise music with vacant expressions. True, there are people in real life that fit the stereotype, but the film makes no attempt to balance them out with at least one character who dares to stand up to Marianne, or to utter a word of disagreement with her, or even to possess a real personality. They just act as Marianne's brainwashed followers, while their preacher ogles high school students doing web-casts in his spare time. They're nothing more than cartoon villains.
Not that any of the other characters are any more realistic or any less cartoony, but at least they have solid performances behind them. Michalka's character is filled with fun energy, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson steal the shows as Olive's wacky parents, Thomas Haden Church gets some good lines as Olive's favorite teacher, and Malcolm McDowell is criminally underused as the school principal. But it makes sense that Amanda Bynes chose to retire after filming "Easy A." I've never really thought of her as a bad actress. But here she plays against type, and it results in the worst performance of both Bynes' career and this movie. It's hard to tell whether she's playing Marianne as completely insincere and phony or if it's just terrible acting, but either way she succeeds in giving her character less than a single dimension.
Another problem with the movie becomes apparent within the first few minutes. The pitch for the movie was "The Scarlet Letter" in a modern day high school by way of 1980's John Hughes teen comedies. The movie won't quit reminding the audience of this. While some self-awareness is always good, calling out that something's cliché as it happens doesn't make it any less cliché. By the time Haden Church's character mentions that he doesn't want to be like the cliché hip teacher his students see in all of the movies, you get the idea of how it would have felt if the cast of "Alien" had spent the entire movie discussing how their scenario was just like Jaws . . . but in outer space. While there are some clever lines, most of the time, the dialog's too "clever" for its own good.
Emma Stone deserves her turn as a leading lady. Unfortunately, her charm isn't enough to carry the film. I enjoyed her more in her supporting turn as the last surviving hottie of a zombie apocalypse in "Zombieland." If the movie were cut down to its most promising moments, a scene where Stone belts along to a Natasha Bedingfield song (already viewable a dozen places online), a similar scene where she gets a full song and dance number towards the end, and any scene showcasing the family dynamics between Stone, Tucci, and Clarkson, it would have been a more enjoyable film, and it would have been rid of about an hour and ten minutes of uncomfortable dialogue. Unfortunately for screenwriter Bert V. Royal, it'd also be rid of the plot.
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