1 Star – Degrading

It is not difficult to see the purpose behind the humor in Will Gluck’s comedy “Easy A.”  Using the tumultuous mix of humanity in high school, Gluck reveals the damage that gossip, deceit and adultery can do, even if done with good intent.  But this message is so overpowered by the mocking caricatures of virtually every individual - from principals to teachers to guidance counselors to parents to pastors to Christians to Californians - that it is difficult to take the whole as anything but offensive and degrading.  Based on the writing of Bert V. Royal, the film additionally weaves in an obvious sexual agenda.
The central character is a naïve high school coed in Ojai, California named Olive (Emma Stone).  Olive is witty but lacks wisdom.  The reason becomes obvious as we meet her stereotypically permissive, politically correct California parents who lack parenting skills, good boundaries and wisdom themselves.  This is true of the other caricatured parents as well, including the topless hippies who offer marijuana to Olive.
But this mocking of parents is only the beginning.  The teacher is cool but clueless.  The guidance counselor is a sexual predator and lacks any ability to guide.  The church confessional is empty.  The protestant pastor is dogmatic and hypocritical.  The Christian students are judgmental and cult-like.  The student body is gossiping and cruel.  But in all of this, Olive begins the story as an oasis of reason – using her wit to survive.
However, when her friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) pressures her for the details about a fictional date, Olive gets caught up in a string of lies: the tale of her first imaginary sexual experience with “George.”  Overheard by the self-righteous preacher’s kid Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the rumors about her soon permeate the school and Olive is branded as a slut.  Gaining notoriety in a school that had ignored her, Olive begins to play out her fictional role unaware of the social and moral repercussions. We won’t reveal what happens, but lies build upon lies and soon Olive’s life has become unrecognizable and she turns to others for help – all of whom fail her.
In the end, the film attempts to give Olive a way out of her predicament, but it is not enough to redeem the damage done, either to her or the audience.  “Easy A” is a film we do not recommend for anyone.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. High school is a difficult time in life.  What was it like for you?
2. When adults are ridiculed, it can keep adolescents from turning to them for help.  Do you believe this film will do that or not?  Why do you answer as you do?
3. Do you believe the sexual agenda of this film is harmful?  Why or why not?

Posted on October 23, 2013 and filed under 1 STAR, DEGRADING.