When you think back, it all started with Meatballs…
Prior to the 70s, film and movie makers did not worry about catering to teenagers, much less their problems. The general consensus was that as long as it involved a beach party or Elvis or both, that things were taken care of. As with other areas of pop culture, things started changing in the 70s. With the onslaught of several director icons-in-the-making (Lucas, Speilberg, Scorcese), studios were forced to start listening to what inspired those directors. Grease was made as a way to reach the kids, but 70s teenagers could not fully identify with those of the 50s; not saying that the movie did not do well, just that it did not satisfy what they were looking for. Then Saturday Night Live comes along with a need to use its stars in movies. Yet even those movies were more adult and unrelatable.
Then lightning in a bottle.
Meatballs focused on the issues of a kid and helped a generation begin to work through awkward coming of age issues. Of course none were taken seriously and considered raunchy like Porky’s and Revenge of the Nerds. Then John Hughes came along. With his movies, he captured the essence of what we were all going through. From then on, people tried to copy that elusive formula.
In the 90s, studios tried again and again, but none were well-received except for 10 Things I Hate About You. This launched a series of movies trying to use Shakespeare as inspiration, most of which were forgettable. American Pie helped reintroduce the raunch of the 80s.
So we now find ourselves in 2010, and studios are still looking for that movie that will ring true with kids today.
I would argue that Easy A is that movie.
Easy A centers around a girl (Emma Stone) who manufactures a bad reputation to help some awkward boys and give herself a little money. Contrary to the stories out there about our lead character, there is very little in the way of sexual encounters on-screen. The A refers to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and is woven into the back ground as a solid through-thread for the story. We get blatant nods to John Hughes and the character even comes across at times as a female Ferris Bueller.
At no point does the movie dumb things down for the audience. In a refreshing change of pace, not everyone is given a happy ending, and the main character learns that not all of the damage she created with this stunt can be undone with a simple apology.
My advice: See it at full price and encourage your teen-agers to see it, then discuss it with them afterwards; for an apparent piece of fluff, there is a lot of substance to this movie…