At Last, A Collaborative Post!
At last, Rachel and Stuart have collaborated on a post! Here’s their review of the script of the film Easy A.
Will Gluck’s Easy A, written by Bert V. Royal, follows a high school girl named Olive Penderghast. At the start of the film, she is socially unknown, or, as she puts it, “I used to be anonymous, invisible to the opposite sex. If Google Earth was a guy, he couldn’t find me if I was dressed up as a ten story building.” And true to her personality and appreciation of literature, she notes that this is cliché. Then, a small lie to her best friend about losing her “V card” to a college guy explodes into a school-wide rumor that she is sleeping around. After she agrees to pretend to have sex with a gay friend to help him fit in at school, her reputation as a floozy grows exponentially. Olive gets caught up in this façade, and it grows to consume her. Once she realizes this, she attempts to find redemption through the video blog (vlog) which serves as the narration for the entirety of the film.
The beginning of the film follows the trend of the typical teen movie, but quickly diverges from this genre as it becomes an analog to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. This novel in and of itself was a sort of redemptive effort on the part of Hawthorne as he wrote this in order to absolve his ancestor’s involvement in the Salem witch debacle, which Olive mimics in her attempt to find salvation through her vlog. Throughout the film, The Scarlet Letter plays a significant role in Olive’s understanding of her own experiences. As she starts to grasp the nature of social excommunication as a result of her fictitious philandering, she symbolically sews a scarlet “A” onto a new “whore couture” wardrobe to embrace her new position in the high school hierarchy as a “skank”.
The Scarlet Letter is not the only work of literature that Olive references throughout the film. She mentions early on in her vlog that Huckleberry Finn is perhaps the only work in the canon that is not universal to human experience because “I don’t know any teenage boys who have ever run away with a big hulking black guy.” Later, she mocks the genre of teen fiction while talking to her best friend:
Rhiannon: You’re being pretty cavalier about this. Aren’t you supposed to be eternally in love with him and shit?
Olive: Yes, yes, I believe so, if I was a gossip girl in the sweet valley of the traveling pants.
When she discusses the fictitious loss of her virginity on her vlog, Olive laments that Judy Blume had not prepared her for this experience, suggesting that children’s literature should serve to develop an accurate picture of growing up.
Olive does not limited her comparisons to the written word. For instance, she tells her friend Brandon (the same friend she pretended to sleep with) that he is “Kinsey 6 gay”, referring to Alfred Kinsey’s continuum ranking of sexual orientation where 6 is exclusively gay and 1 is exclusively straight. She also bemoans the fact that John Hughes, a famous director of movies in the 1980s, had no part in the development of her life story.
Olive and her English teacher also poke fun at teens’ overuse of Facebook to share the mundane events of everyday life. Her teacher incredulously quotes, “ ‘Roman is having an okay day. Got a Coke Zero at the gas station. Raise the roof’? Who gives a rat’s ass?” More subtly, after Rhiannon leaves her, Olive says that she is alone and that this is what she is used to. This is reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am a Rock”, which itself is a play off John Donne’s “No Man is an Island”, giving a multicultural perspective to her solitude.
One of the more comedic aspects of the film is Olive’s family. One of the many odd qualities of the group is that they are all named after food or spices: Olive, Dill, Rosemary, Kale, and Chip. Their dynamic involves clever word play that ranges from bad puns to nearly imperceptible wit. Examples:
“Is there an Olive here?”
“There’s a whole jar of them in the fridge.”
“You get family member of the week every week.”
“And there’s a reason for that.”
“Yeah, because you always choose family member of the week”
“Are you accusing me of nepotism?”
“I have no STDs I promise.”
“That’s great. Daughter of the year.”
“Let’s just say it was an inappropriate word.”
“Well, what did it start with?”
“A snide comment from a snobby girl in my class.”
“No, what did the word start with?”
Easy A is a smart film that manages to be both funny and touching. Royal’s script is only enhanced by the performance of the actors and the direction of Gluck, and it’s definitely a movie to check out!