Easy A (2010)

Rated: PG-13 for mature thematic elements involving teen sexuality, language and some drug material.
Length: 92 minutes
Grade: AC-BA=A
Budget: $8 million
Box Office: $90 million (58 U.S., 16 Intl., 16 DVD)

Written by: Bert V. Royal (Only movie)
Directed by: Will Gluck (Friends with Benefits, Fired Up!)
Starring: Emma Stone
With: Penn Badgley, Thomas Hayden Church, Amanda Bynes, Dan Byrd, Patricia Clarkson, Lisa Kudrow, Malcolm McDowell, and Stanley Tucci.

A responsible high school girl discovers there is power and peril in lying about her own sexual exploits.

Entertainment Value: A
This is entertaining on every level. It’s hilarious (Emma Stone is one of my favorite young actresses) in the most sardonic of ways. It’s filled with fascinating plot twists and literary/cultural references. And it preaches by contrast both what genuine Christianity should look like and what imposter Christianity so often is.

Superficial Content: C-
Drugs/Alcohol B, Sex/Nudity C-, Violence B+, Language C
Ironically, for a movie all about sex, there isn’t any actually in it, although there’s LOTS of sex talk, and one prominently gay character. Language is the other concern, which is certainly enough to justify the PG-13. You should know that the original version of the film had extensive profanity(many scenes were shot with both levels of dialogue), but the PG-13 version was the one ultimately released, thankfully. Yet another example of the usefulness of R-15, if only it existed.

Significant Content: B
First, the bad news. There are Christians in the movie, but they are the worst, most wicked kind of self-righteous judgmental Christians you can imagine. I really kept hoping that a decent Christian would show up because it could easily have been an intentional device to set the stage for the contrast, but one never did. So I have to knock it for that. On the other hand, the portrayal of Christians is so grotesque that there’s hardly a chance anyone thinks that’s what real Christianity looks like, and it’s highly useful to see the ugliness of this tragically common deviant form of religion which self-describes as Christianity. Rumors travel at the speed of texting among teens. People will believe salacious things over boring things any day. Community standards can be a powerful force for oppression and alienation, and the way to fight back against them is to embrace the outsider status they confer.

Artistic/Thought Value: A
As a work of art, this is brilliant. In fact, the writing here is incredibly strong (always the backbone of a great movie, a lesson I wish other filmmakers would really take to heart). It’s only Will Gluck’s second script, but based on the total hilarity of Fired Up! and this one, I’m eager to see what else he produces. What’s going to be painful for a lot of very misguided Christians is the skewering they receive throughout the movie, whether in the behavior of Amanda Bynes’s group or protesting the devil mascot or the treatment of people perceived to fail to live up to the groups moral standards. But the big key artistically to this movie is the way Olive decides to celebrate her false sexually liberated status through clothing and even the red A a la Hawthorne. She helps outcasts by taking shame upon herself for their reputation’s benefit in a plot that winds up screaming Christianity without even realizing it. That’s the real tragedy here. If someone could show this film’s creators the real Gospel, they’d be Christians, but all they know is the stupid, false versions of it they see all around them.

Discussion Questions:
~What is the meaning of the scarlet A in Hawthorne’s book? What is the meaning of it in this movie? Why does Olive wear it? Why might someone who is actually morally pure choose to allow her reputation to be so sullied? In what ways is this behavior reminiscent of Jesus’s?
~Describe some of the sacrifices Olive tries to make for other people. Are any of them misguided? Do the people who use her in this way really care about her or only about what they can get from using her? How is this reminiscent of the way people treat God and God’s favors? Does Olive genuinely care about her customers?
~How much would Olive’s character have been different if she had actually been a Christian? Considering her as a good example of genuine Christianity, describe some of the contrasts between her and Marianne’s clique.
~In the Bible, Jesus almost always seeks out and cherishes the outcasts while having the most scathing critiques for religious leaders who have no love of God or man at all. In what ways do you see this dynamic played out here? What similarities exist between the Pharisees and Marianne’s clique?
~Describe the parenting style of Olive’s parents. What are the virtues of it? Are there any real defects in it? What are the key aspects of a healthy parent-child relationship for a near-adult like Olive? If their parenting style bothers you, would it change your opinion at all that someone like me thinks they were a truly beautiful example of an extremely healthy family?
~If social status is a worldly commodity, what should a Christian’s attitude toward it be? What happens in an enclosed community (like high school) when everyone is scrambling greedily to acquire as much as it as possible?
~Would you ever be willing to let “virtuous” people believe that you had done something awful (that you hadn’t) if it offered you access to or common ground with socially marginalized people? What did Jesus do in this regard? How is the appearance of virtue (especially if deserved) such a dangerous form of idolatry?
~Why does the personal slur against the other girl work so well? Do you think this word choice was inappropriate or inaccurate? Are insults ever right? Did Jesus ever insult anyone?
~How should a Christian high school be different from a secular one? How should Christians in a secular high school be different from their secular peers? If personal holiness means not indulging in anything offensive to God, can it be said that relational holiness means precisely befriending people who are personally unholy?
~“Only the truly competent feel secure enough to allow others to think they are incompetent.” What do you think of this idea, not explicitly in the movie, but implied by several characters?
~How many ‘80s movie references can you note in this film?

Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The first staged sexual encounter.
~Olive’s parents jesting with her and her brother.
~Marianne’s clique portrayals.
Overall Grade: A
This is exactly the sort of movie I dislike writing a review about, only because it makes me really want to go back and watch it two or three more times. Fantastic, illustrative, and entertaining. I could preach from this movie for weeks.

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