Thursday, September 23, 2010

Did You Lose Your Virginity? No, But I Said I Did

Three and a half stars

Virginity is a big deal for a lot of high school students. I’m not too sure if losing it these days in the teen years is that big of a deal. Though, in “Easy A”, it shows itself to be still a big deal. The smart main character Olive (Emma Stone) is a virgin, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to get her friend off her back. A small lie about her losing her virginity to a college guy spreads across school at lightening speed through their cell phones and social networks. “I don’t understand your generation’s fascination with documenting every thought”, says her teacher (Thomas Haden Church), when talking about Facebook. The premise of the movie may have been just another teen cliche filled comedy, but actually this is a smart teen comedy in the tradition of John Hughes. Olive even says that she wishes her life were like a 1980s’ film, at which point they cut to clips of various 80s teen flicks. Even that she could have a dance number for no reason where she lipsinks to a catchy tune like Ferris did, like in the films of the 1980s.

Of course, the problem is that soon the rumor of Olive’s virginity loss gets a bit out of control. After her teacher tells the class about The Scarlett Letter, and how the main character of that book becomes a public disgrace, Olive decides to follow her lead and do the same. Next thing she knows, a friend of her who’s gay but tormented at school hears the rumors that she is loose and decides to ask to her to pretend to have sex with him so the kids stop bullying him. Next thing she knows all the kids who are outcasts, losers and nerds are asking her to do the same for them. First it’s a business, as they hand her hundred dollar gift cards, but soon becomes a problem, as she starts to find herself in uncomfortable situations.

The plot is a familiar one, and I don’t want to give too much of it away, but I do want to say this is a smart and quirky film. Don't let the ads fool you. This is one of the smartest films of the year. It’s also a star turn for Emma Stone, who is in every scene of this film. She shows us that she is smart and funny, and she nails every scene. The script by Bert Royal packs in a lot of quirky references to other teen movies, but doesn’t overwhelm the movie with them. It’s also worth noting that Amanda Bynes turns in a funny performance as a holly roller who seems to weirdly go back and fourth from being Olive’s friend and rival, at times protesting outside the school and calling her a slut.

It’s a rule that those who are un-lucky enough in movies to still hold onto their virginity are generally embarrassed by it. Television for that matter too. Olive, well, is refreshing because though she lied that she lost her virginity, she somehow retains it, all the while projecting an image that she lost it and is now having sex with a lot of different boys. Doesn’t anyone in the film wonder why she’s only having sex with nerds, losers and outcasts? It doesn’t really matter, though. In order for a film like this to work, you have to like the main character. I liked Olive. Even though she ends up milking the rumor mill, when the end of the movie comes, the jokes on those who fell for the rumors in the first place.

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