Promiscuity, virginity, gossip, relationships and scandal. The topics explored in “Easy A” are hardly groundbreaking for the teenage romantic comedy.
Indeed, director John Hughes’ classics “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles” established the genre more than 30 years ago.
But “Easy A” charts new territory.
Whereas the leading ladies in “Pretty in Pink” and “Sixteen Candles” work to get the attention of the dreamy stud of their dreams, Olive (Emma Stone) in “Easy A” has bigger problems on her hands: Her entire high school thinks she’s a loose liar.
The drama starts when the local high school’s snot-nose religious zealot (Amanda Bynes) overhears a conversation in which Olive is accused of having lost her virginity. The rumor spreads like wildfire. Overnight, Olive becomes the recipient of the ladies’ glares and the dudes’ pathetic come-ons. Though she’s still a virgin, Olive embraces her new pseduo-slutty identity and doesn’t give a reason for anyone to doubt it, which leads to deep consequences.
But for a movie about sex, “Easy A” has little of it. In fact, the naughtiest Olive gets is setting up a business to assist closeted gays in faking sex scenes and convincing everyone they’re straight. Stone, who has also starred in “Superbad” and “Zombieland,” was concerned about the message the film would send to young audiences.
“She is a virgin, so she’s not truly being promiscuous. But then again, does it glamorize fake promiscuity or telling people to be promiscuous, which is not good as well?” Stone asks. “I think what she learns by this whole pact of lying to everyone and watching her life kind of crumble around her [is that] if she had just told the truth from the beginning, she could have been saved from all [of] that.”
The film is inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter,” in which the lead character, Hester Prynne, becomes a community target in 17th-century Boston after committing adultery. While reading the book for a class, Olive learns that Hester was forced to wear clothing with an embroidered “A” on the front, reminding her and everyone she encounters of her sin. Olive sews the letter onto her clothing to remind everyone of her new reputation.
“It’s just like we say in the movie, Hester decided to be silent about what was going on, and Olive is wildly outspoken and lying the entire time as well,” Stone said. “Olive doesn’t actually sleep with any of these people. It’s kind of almost the reverse problem in a way, even though they’re both being ostracized.”
“Easy A,” directed by Will Gluck, is playing in theaters now. The film stars Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s parents, Lisa Kudrow as the troubled school counselor, and Penn Badgley of “Gossip Girl” fame as Olive’s love interest.
Nick Maslow may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.