Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Review:: Easy A

I've split this review into parts in keeping with one of the movie's themes.  In Part 1, I give a general review which contains no spoilers.  In Part 2, I will reveal my post-viewing critical thoughts of the movie that back up my general opinion in Part 1, but MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS.  Ye be warned.

Part 1

Let's not split hairs: this is a teenager / high school movie, and is aimed at said audience.  Maybe even the college kids who aren't too far removed from their glory days are in that audience.  Having said that, it is still enjoyable for people like me who are 26 and several years removed from either high school or college.

The story is as it looks in the previews: Olive helps out a gay friend by pretending to have sex with him at a party, and then continues to help other students by having fake sex.  It all inevitably spirals out of control, which is where the conflict comes in.  It's a pretty funny movie with only a few negatives (at least, negatives from my perspective), but for Easy A, getting an A is not so easy (haha, see what I did there?  Oh yeah, there are some wonderful puns in this movie too); I give it a B, which would have been a B- if it hadn't been for the really clever opening/end credit sequence.

On to Part 2 - where there might be some spoilers.  But for this kind of movie, I don't think being spoiled is that big of a deal.  Other people might think so, hence my generous warning.

Part 2: Why I gave Easy A a B OR this part is also really long so hang in there please

The top reason for why I didn't give it a higher grade is because I didn't know what movie this was trying to be.  For the first half of the movie, it had its own identity and stood fairly evenly on its own legs.  Near the end, it becomes a pastiche of John Hughes homages and the movie loses itself.  By "loses itself" I don't mean to say that it becomes a bad movie, but that its legs give out and the movie has to use a Hughes-Crutch to make it to the finish line.  Oh man, I am just picturing Felix Gaeta hobbling to the finish line in a track meet.  Okay sorry, no Battlestar Galactica in here.

The self-referential bits begin early in the film - acknowledging how fitting it is that in every movie the book they study in class has a significant relevance to the events in the movie, yadda yadda yadda.  Alright, I can excuse that because we know from the beginning that Olive is narrating From the Future, and It's Funny To Say That We're Not In a Movie But The Events Are Exactly Like a Movie.  Or something.

But then Olive brings up John Hughes movies (clips are even shown to us), and the final sequences are direct homages to those same movies.  This is the point where I get confused about what kind of movie this is, and I think I would have preferred it if it tried to reach the end without getting Hughes to prop it up.

I believe that the reason I have a problem with the Hughes-crutch is not that I don't like Hughes - far from it.  It's more than just because I think the movie could have done well on its own; it's because I also think it doesn't make any sense.

I assume that Olive is either 17, or about to turn 18 during this movie.  That places her birth at 1992.  Sure lists a bunch of writing credits in the early 2000s, but Hughes' last actual movie was Curly Sue in 1991.  The movies Olive talks about were made between 1984 and 1986, 1988 tops.  Is the movie trying to tell me these movies are actually relevant to teenagers these days?  I'm 26 and even I haven't watched all of his movies, nor do I have any strong desire to do so.

This tells me that the movie is simply a vehicle for the writers to re-live their memories of their favourite John Hughes movies, and it got green-lit because it was something edgy that the teenagers would like anyway.  And maybe they'll look into these movies they mentioned along the way (probably not).

In my opinion this movie would have been better served by paying homage with subtelty.  The movie-goers who would appreciate the references would feel excited and smart for pointing them out to their friends (I know I would).

Wow all that and I didn't even mention that I didn't like Olive's parents.  Way too liberal for my tastes - but I don't think they were meant to be real in any sense.

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