“Easy A,” or, I Guess Movies Can Surprise You

I did not expect to enjoy Easy A, for two reasons. The first is that I am an insecure elitist snob who is terrified to admit to enjoying any movie seen by more than three people. The second is that – well, it’s a classic reimagined as a teen movie, and those do not have a track record of going so well. But as I was sitting next to my entirely-too-smug best friend watching the movie, I began to realize something surprising and more than a little alarming – I was legitimately, non-ironically enjoying it.

In my defense (to the Association of Douchebag Hipsters; yes, we’re real, and yes, we do have buttons), Easy A is a movie which does so many things right. It begins with a solid, compelling premise, and promotes a serious, subversive-enough-to-be-noticed message. The dialogue is snappy and intelligent, with rapid-fire jokes and references which deftly balance between being exclusive enough that there’s a sense of achievement to understanding them but accessible enough that most people understand most of them. The characters are, if not necessarily well-rounded, at least likable enough to justify basing a movie around. In fact, one thing I particularly liked about the movie’s treatment of its characters was that all of the individuals we were meant to sympathize with were rational, intelligent and understanding. Perhaps it was unrealistic, but I adored the lack of contrived conflict stemming from people who supposedly get along inexplicably turning against one another. The characters in this movie trust each other, which was a refreshing type of relationship to enjoy.

Is this a perfect movie? Of course not. It’s a teen movie, and suffers from the limitations of its genre. First, it seems to believe that, by pointing out its use of ‘80s John Hughes movie tropes, said use is thus excused. Now, you can use these tropes sincerely or you can lampoon them, but Easy A tries to do both, and I’m not okay with that. Furthermore, I’ve been to high school, and in a real high school, no one who looks like Emma Stone would have to be even a pretend slut to get attention. To be fair, that’s a Hollywood problem hardly limited to this one movie, so, focusing on this one movie, some of the jokes fall flat, our heroes are often unbearably quirky, and the plot, while deserving of my previous praise, does begin to fall apart if you think about it too much.

But even with all of that, this is still undeniably a good movie. Sure, the viewer knows how it’s going to end from the opening frame – but you get the feeling that the makers of the movie did as well. In other words, this was a well planned movie that was thought through from the beginning, and so it flows naturally and logically and consistently throughout. The best thing I can say about this movie is that, early on, it established the parameters of its universe and then stuck to them. So, sure, it has the flaws inherent to its genre, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is an example of that genre done exceptionally well. Easy A is hardly the best movie I’ve ever seen – it probably wouldn’t even crack my top 20 – but it’s a really good flick that knows what it’s doing and does so to near perfection.

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