Hard Sell

A look at the film ‘Easy A’ directed by Will Gluck

Almost every Wednesday, we partake in a film-night with our good friend, Bruce. We get together, take it in turns to pick a title and then subject the other to our selection.

What’s especially interesting is the choices made so far. Mrs Roy and I typically go for comedies that lean towards parody where Bruce tends to favour rom-coms and feel-good films.

There have been some good ones, and some highly mediocre ones. Thankfully, nothing truly hideous has yet come of this arrangement though he did struggle to enjoy the New Zealand borne ‘Black Sheep’ that we chose to screen for him recently… What can I say? I have defective friends.

So when last nights selection was pitched to us –  a choice of three titles – I immediately brushed aside the two that seemed to fit the previous light-hearted bollocks we had been going for and opted for a cold-war thriller.

Mrs Roy had other plans. And so I settled reluctantly with ‘Easy A’. A teen angst film. I withheld my cries of ‘For Gods sake, just kill me now’ and ‘Forget teen angst, what about my bloody angst at having to endure another generic, tedious film that will be instantly forgettable?’.

At least i had my dinner to keep me entertained.

The opener; nothing special. Opening narration; how original. An attractive and likeable main character who’s life is a little incomplete; revolutionary. Forgive the sarcasm, it was all I had while it was starting.

But then it happened… It got my attention. And it didn’t wait too long to do it either. Nothing happened (not in terms of action, anyway), but it was something about the quality of the words and their delivery that made this feel fresh.

And so I gave it just a little more focus than I thought it deserved and was rewarded with believable, yet quirky-of-the-sort-that-only-exists-in-movie-world characters who keep punching out great lines and causing the three of us to actually, properly laugh out loud.

And while ‘laugh out loud’ – or rather, its abbreviated form – has become synonymous on the internet for “I’m not actually laughing but I want you to think I am”, what we had going on was actual laughter you could hear and it felt good.

I was interested to learn that the writer bashed out the first draft of the screenplay in just five or six days. Talk about being ‘in the zone’. Maybe the witty banter and dialogue throughout feels so consistently steady in quality because it was all penned in such a condensed time frame. Maybe the writer is just one of those awful people who have a natural talent for good work. I guess I’ll have to look into what else he’s written so I can find out.

Music for the film is predominantly songs sourced from elsewhere. It may have had an original score, but if it did, I didn’t notice it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially for a first viewing, because if you’re listening to the music more than you’re listening to what’s being said by the actors, then the film is likely failing to do its job.

The songs used are appropriate, punchy, youthful and very considered. At no point did I feel it was an exercise in endurance to see who would go leaping for the mute button or start slashing at speaker wires with a pair of scissors.

Something else that really struck me was the little jabs at teen-culture without ever really taking a full-on swipe. The bitchiness, the rumour-mills, the bragging, it was all there but it wasn’t the be-all and end-all. With our focus on Emma Stone’s character, we feel things as she feels them and because she’s somewhat disconnected emotionally from those around her, we get her ‘outsiders’ point of view on college life. We experience all those things through her but as a redeemable character, we know that somehow she’s going to make it all right somehow.

I’m going to make a startling confession. I’ve watched and enjoyed another teen-angst film; ‘Mean Girls’ directed by Mark Waters. Shut up! don’t start on me. It was a one-off. There wasn’t meant to be any more good teen films so I felt comfortable allowing this one some latitude.

But ‘Mean Girls’ was a good film. It was excellently executed and featured a pre-nutcase-era Lindsey Lohan who drove the film from start to end. It was funny, observational and relevant. ‘Easy A’ feels a lot, and I mean A LOT, like a spiritual sequel to ‘Mean Girls’ but perhaps with a fresher feel to it and a tad more polish.

It hurts me to say this… I would recommend this film (and ‘Mean Girls’ too if given half a chance) to anyone and everyone. It’s funny. It’s heartwarming. It’s well written. It’s cut together nicely. It’s paced perfectly to keep the film driving forwards but without leaving you scrabbling around trying to keep up or feeling exhausted by the end of it.

Get over the teen-angst moniker and give it a chance. If after just twenty-minutes, you can’t take it any more and have to switch off, then you can at least be thankful that you didn’t have to spend those wasted twenty minutes doing something awful like interacting with another human being instead of staring at the big black rectangle with a picture moving around on it.

If you can’t enjoy a film like this, then maybe humour isn’t your thing. But in a world where genuine laughter is being replaced more and more by stony-faced loners typing “LOL” into the internet, a little fun and laughter is just what we need. Rent it, buy it, download it… However you get your films, check out this title. I’m confident you’ll be won over as much as I was.

A reason why you should watch it: Emma Stone; sort of a Rose McGowan MkII but better in every way.

A reason why you shouldn’t watch it: Because laughter might make your face crack.


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