Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Happy Padawan and Good Teen Fun

Okay, I promised you a review of Easy A, and I'm not one to make false promises, so it's here.  However, I also wanted to let you guys know about a really cool and unique book that just came out.

A few months ago, a little girl named Katie asked her mom if she could take a pink water bottle to school instead of her usual Star Wars bottle.  It's a seemingly innocuous request, but so out of character for the first-grader that it prompted a few questions from her mother.  Then came the tears.  Poor little Katie was being teased for liking Star Wars.  Only boys could like Star Wars, apparently.  Katie was different, and kids are mean.

Katie's mother wrote a blog post asking for advice on how to help Katie through this patch--which was then picked up by Epbot writer and blogging juggernaut, Jen Yates--and the response was overwhelming.  Geek Girls (and Boys) everywhere fell in love with the spunky, bespectacled Padawan, and sent comments, well-wishes, advice, toys, screening passes, caricatures...the list goes on, to help Katie realize that it's okay to like Star Wars.  It's okay to like whatever interests you.  It doesn't matter if you're a girl, boy, or Ewok.  It's always cool to be yourself. 

Yates and company compiled the thousands of comments into a book for Katie--a 557 page book, at that--and sent it to her for Christmas.  That way, anytime she felt down she could look at it and remember that she has the love and support of an entire community behind her (we should all be so lucky).  Enough people requested it, that the book has been made public at manufacturer's cost.  No one involved is making any money off of this venture.  It's just a nice gesture. 

The hardcover book is $28.80, and contains over 3,300 comments.  Somehow, I think more kids than just Katie could benefit from reading this.  May the Force be with all of you!

Okay, now the review.  I doubt any of you have been waiting with baited breath, but a promise is a promise.  Plus, I've been too sick to really test out any new products.  I could either review a movie or give you the play-by-play action of Farkle on Facebook.  That's about as exciting as it sounds, so here's the review.

I expected this to be "cute".  I figured I'd curl up on the couch and watch at it (maybe check my email or play on my phone during slow parts), and Thomas would get fed up at the teeny-bopper silliness and go edit something on the movie.  I did not expect to become fully invested in this movie.

For those who missed the trailers, Olive Pendergast (Emma Stone) is a good girl.  She's doing well in her high school classes, gets along with teachers and students, and never makes her parents (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson) lose sleep at night.  Aside from being completely invisible to the opposite sex, Olive is happy and well-adjusted. 

Olive's friend, Rhi, is not as well-adjusted.  Nor is she invisible to boys.  In fact, she's a bit of a skank, and sort of coerces Olive to admit to losing her virginity (which she had not).  A holier-than-thou student (Amanda Bynes) overhears and tells the entire school.  Next thing you know, not only is Olive studying the novel The Scarlet Letter in class, but is living the role of Hester Prynne!  Things progress from bad to worse when Olive takes on an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude.  Cue the virtuous harlot!

Okay, there's some definite suspension of disbelief going on.  First, to imagine the adorable Emma Stone as invisible, and secondly, to go along with an entire high school being scandalized over a student's sex life.  However, they make it work.  I guess if the charges are outlandish enough, even the most jaded of Seniors can be shocked. 

Other than that, the entire movie was very believable.  Kudos to the writers taking what could have potentially been cliche or filled with toilet humor, and turning it into an intelligent, funny movie with relatable characters and plausible situations, very much in the tradition of Clueless, Ten Things I Hate About You, and the greatest of the genre: the John Hughes collection. 

And, in keeping with that tradition, the cast must include glittering new talent.  Clueless brought attention to Paul Rudd.  Ten Things had Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Heath Ledger (boy, were we spoiled, or what?).  Easy A brings us Miss Stone.  True, it's not her first movie, but it is her first time carrying a movie, and she does it beautifully, earning that Golden Globe nod.

In supporting roles, Stanley Tucci (most likely ad-libbing his way through the part) and Patricia Clarkson are wonderful as the parents we'd all like to have, or at least get to hang out with occasionally.  Thomas Hayden Church is endearing as "the cool teacher", and Lisa Kudrow shows off some rarely seen dramatic chops.  Amanda Bynes was also quite funny as the holy roller who starts the whole mess.

It's not groundbreaking, but it was never meant to be.  This is a teen comedy, intended to be funny and sweet, and it succeeds.  All in all, an exceptionally well-made addition to the genre, and definitely a rental suggestion.  3 stars (out of 4).    


  1. that sounds WAY better than it looked. i'll add it to the list.

    oh, and by the way, the whole "everyone is shocked - SHOCKED! - at sexual behavior!" meme might be a lot more realistic if the movie was set in a law school and not a high school. it was more than a little unnerving the way people reacted to things in my so-called professional school...

  2. It was much better than I ever expected it to be. As for the SHOCKED! behavior...they were just jealous. ;)


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