Not just another teen comedy, and miraculously not featuring either Jonah Hill or Michael Cera! That's a surprising development, since the genre has been one of the most abused of all since the early American Pie reawakened the masses to its charms, and producers to its bankability. It is a genre that is in danger of dying, but if Easy A- available to buy now on blu-ray- is anything to go by, there may yet be a resurgence in clever, pithy school comedies. The thing is, Easy A isn't actually a teen comedy at all: in the same way that Superbad aimed its humour at those of us who had already lived through our teens and could recognise the truth in the comedy. Easy A is actually for older audiences who have the opportunity to look back on their own teenage years and see themselves in the farcical humour of the film. Emma Stone graduates from cool, sexy sidekick in Zombieland and Superbad (though object is perhaps more appropriate for those two) to lead her own movie, and on this showing, casting directors should have little objection to her name appearing as the top-billed actor on their production. She is great as supposedly geeky outcast Olive- although she equates being normal and inconsequential to being outcast, which is just plain not true- blending her own particular blend of quirky cool with a formerly muted (or at least not quite so explicit) sassy sexiness to impressive effect. In the wake of Juno's success, there has been a definite shift in movies of this ilk in terms of what is considered cool. Look at John Hughes' school-based comedies- nerdy is definitely nerdy, uncool is undeniably uncool, and the dorky characters tend to succeed despite their patently obvious social flaws. But in this new universe, the "nerds" like Juno and now Olive are in fact conventionally beautiful and we are supposed to believe that they are ostracised in their school social circles for being too normal or at least a little cookie. I don't know what school you went to- but the outcasts did NOT look like Emma Stone, and even further, no "sluts" (even the pretend ones) looked anything like her either. She would have been an untouchable at my school, and I find it very hard to believe anything else. Anyway, there is a lot to love about Easy A- the acting is great across the board, from Emma Stone at the head of the cast to villainess Amanda Bynes and everyone is visibly having a lot of fun with the writing, even if the script is slightly more hyper-real than real (think Juno, but not quite so odd). My favourite thing is the conceit that this is a teenage sex movie without any sex in it- and that it seems to take the weight of moral responsibility a lot more seriously than other films within that genre. While those films veil their obsession with sex under a lie of personal revellation (American Pie pretends to not be obsessed with tits by suggesting that all of the teens discover themselves instead- but it's all bollocks as pretty much all of them still get laid!), Easy A offers a maturer message about sex at the same time as making a joke of the whole teen-sex-quest movie sub-genre. How very post-modern of it. There's also an interesting message about Christianity here as well. Basically, it is plainly obvious that director Will Gluck and screenwriter Bert V. Royal have a lot of issues with the religion, or at least with its permeation into school systems since Amanda Bynes' Christian prayer group is the butt of a lot of jokes, and the supposedly two most evangelically devout characters- Bynes' Marianne and her boyfriend aren't quite as pure as they seem. But just when you think you're getting an ultra-modern teenage rom-com with a lot of clever ideas, the film wraps up with a very very twee happy full-stop, which doesn't necessarily fit with the rest of the film. It isn't a deal breaker by any means, but there is something a little too alien about it. And really, the troubled and disintegrating relationship between Thomas Haden Church and Lisa Kudrow should have been handled a lot better, but again such is the charm of the rest of the film that these problems evaporate under scrutiny. Overall it is very good, but the film is a little too insistent at times- it is also very knowing in its oh-so-cool humour. Take the parents- played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson- they are so painfully hip that they celebrate their daughter taking a boy up to her room, and act more like friends than actual parents. Their worryingly lax attitudes to their daughter's crisis, which they recognise, but not to the extent where they feel the need to intervene beyond asking how she is is just one of characteristics that we are supposed to suspend belief for in favour of accepting them as uber-cool ultra-modern parents. I blame Juno for this as well, but then both of them have as much charm as elder sibling Clueless, which can only be a good thing from where I'm sitting.
QualityAbout as good as you're likely to see, and another top-drawer transfer from Sony: Easy A looks incredible. Colours are uniformly excellent and warm throughout and there is great detail in every scene. The transfer is particularly good in revealing the detail of fine skin texture in the close-up shots, but really everything looks great thanks to an overall sharpness that even extends into the backgrounds. And despite being filmed in digital, there is still a natural grain to the source that adds a depth to the visuals, and manages to swerve the usual over-gloss of other digital films. The audio is just as good, even if it has little way of really showing off- background levels are perfect with nothing sounding too artificial or interfering, and dialogue is top-notch. It is the music that steals the show, with every track on the soundtrack sounding like it has been remastered specifically for the film, which is some achievement. Extras Quite a few additions, but nothing to break the mould. You get sort of what you'd expect from this sort of set-up with a Gag-Reel, plus lots of extra footage and a brief, slightly promo-like Making Of. The audio commentary is good though, since it offers the chance to listen to Emma Stone's delightfully sexy voice for longer. Extra Credit: Pop-Up Trivia Track Audio Commentary: Director Will Gluck & Actress Emma Stone The Making of 'Easy A' (14mins) Vocabulary of Hilarity (5mins) The School of Pop Culture: Movies of the Eighties (5mins) Gag Reel (5mins). Emma Stone Audition Footage (19mins): Webcam, In Detention, In Detention #2, Fight on the Phone, Fight on the Phone #2, and Olive Confesses. Trailers: The Social Network, Burlesque, Beastly, Nowhere Boy, Salt, How Do You Know, The Other Guys, Tamara Drewe, Eat Pray Love, and The House Bunny. Movie IQ. BD-Live. Easy A is available to buy on Blu-ray and DVD now.
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