I made a mistake
This one isn’t a rom-com
Oopsies. Still watched it
Rating: 3.5/5 (a rating that went up half a point halfway through the review, as you’ll find)
You may notice the asterisk on the title of this post. There is a reason for that.
I’ve really skirted the line a few times during Rom-Com Challenge 2015. Is Some Like It Hot really a rom-com? How about Gigli (what is Gigli, anyway)? Even Chasing Amy, as fantastic as it was, is cutting it close.
I think I finally overstepped my bounds a little too far.
Understandably, the rote themes and plotlines of the rom-com genre has worn on me over the last two weeks or so. A group of friends compiled a list that I treated like gospel, until I simply decided it was time to step outside of the realm of the traditional rom-com and try some genre-bending.
That led me to Easy A, a movie labeled by nearly every movie website as “Romance, Comedy,” I took those qualifiers a bit too seriously and about 45 minutes into the movie, I realized I had made a mistake. Easy A is more along the lines of Some Like It Hot, a movie that prompted me to deem it a “Comedic Romedy,” a movie that had romance as a secondary plot to the overall humor of the film. The problem is that the romance in Easy A is almost non-existent until the final 10 minutes. In fact, the whole point is that Emma Stone’s character, Olive, can’t find a love interest.
So it is with a heavy heart that I pronounce this week’s entry in David’s Rom-Com Challenge 2015 “unqualified.” This means that I will have to watch an additional movie in the Challenge. Instead of 30 romantic comedies in 30 days, it will be 31 movies, 30 of which are romantic comedies, in 31 days (though I will be taking two weekend breaks for vacations, so it’s more like 38 days. Deal with it).
Since this wasn’t a rom-com, I’m going to make it short and sweet for y’all.
Emma Stone is the best
Seriously. Is there anyone cooler than Emma Stone? She’s cute, funny, a great actress, and generally seems like someone who doesn’t give two shits what you think about her. I’m almost certain the characters she portrays in movies are a direct representation of her off-screen personality.
In Easy A, she plays a somehow-undatebale dork named Olive (?) who lies to her best friend Rhiannon (?) about losing her virginity. The school Jesus freak, played perfectly by a not-yet-off-the-rails Amanda Bynes, overhears the conversation and spreads a rumor that Olive is a complete and utter skank. This rather simple premise devolves into a fantastically funny high-school tale based around Olive’s full transformation into a faux whore. It’s just a tad unclear why she does this (to be noticed? To make a point? Because she just can’t stop? Seems Heisenberg-ish), though she does end up extorting money from losers to fake having sex with them. Sometimes, that means exchanging an Auto Zone gift card for fake sex, but hey, it pays the bills.
In the same vein as Mean Girls, this movie is one that based on advertising and poster design you would assume is a teen comedy with “oh-em-gees” and impossibly sculpted 16 year-old boys inserted liberally into the script. There are some, but that’s not the point. Mean Girls is a surprisingly good movie. So is Easy A.
The best part of the movie besides Emma Stone’s impersonation of herself is Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s parents, Dill and Rosemary (oh my god, I just now realized those were their names. This movie is BRILLIANT. Add half a rating point!).
Dill and Rosemary are hippie-like, youthfully exuberant parents who have casual dialogue with their beloved daughter and who have an African-American son who is either adopted or their literal spawn, I still can’t tell. These two are hilarious. Dill is such a DAD and Rosemary is that mom who tries hard to be cool and is thisclose to doing it. Ultimately, it’s Rosemary who lands the dad joke of the year:
Brandon: “Is there an Olive here?”
Rosemary: “There’s a whole jar of them in the fridge!”
Ugh, this line is terrible but amazing at the same time. Ughhhhh. Then, we have the following interaction, dripping with sarcasm, that perfectly sums up their relationship with their daughter:
Rosemary: Olive! There’s a young man here to see you
[starts speaking in a Southern accent]
Rosemary: He said something about asking for your hand in marriage!
Olive Penderghast: [Also speaking in a Southern accent] Oh, happy day, Mama! Oh, I thought I was gonna have to spend my dowry on booze and pills to numb the loneliness. A gentleman caller, hurray!
This was SO CLOSE to being a romcom: Olive finds her lover in the end (Woodchuck Todd who, on IMDB, is listed as such, so I’m now thinking that the character’s first name is actually Woodchuck). There’s even a short montage of 80s romantic comedies in the middle! Including a few I’ve watched! Still, I couldn’t deem this a rom-com.
My biggest problem: This movie was generally good and well-meaning, but there was a huge issue. It takes place in a high school, and these CHILDREN are using words in conversation that I’ve never used. They speak in ways that adults don’t even speak. I’m not saying the script should have dumbed it down, but some of these characters were too mature to be believable.
The fake sex scene: In the trailer, one of the primary focuses is the scene when Olive and Brandon fake a hookup. It’s one of those scenes that looks like it works well as an advertising piece, but would be campy and dumb in practice. Wrong. It was fucking hilarious, mostly because Emma Stone is the best at everything. I was surprised at how much I liked this stupid slapstick scene.
I laughed harder at one part in this movie than I have at any other movie in this challenge: Out of context, it’s not that funny, unfortunately. But here’s Olive, standing in a lunch line wearing the skimpiest, prostitutiest outfit imaginable, having just made a poor little fat kid faint with desire. Her favorite teacher, Mr. Griffith walks up to her and looks at her for a long time, confused by her attire. Then, this:
Mr. Griffith: “What are you doing?”
[long, looooong pause with intense eye contact]
Mr. Griffith: “Don’t forget, tomorrow’s Earth Day.”
Watch it. It’s fucking hilarious.
Not a rom-com. Almost a rom-com. Still a good movie. Still worthy of a review, even with a big ol’ asterisk. Today, I will be watching Sleepless In Seattle to firmly reestablish my commitment to honoring the genre. And away we go.