Monday, October 22 , 2018, 1:38 am | Fair 63º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Easy A’

The film's agenda is obvious and degrading

1 Star — Degrading

It’s not difficult to see the purpose behind the humor in Will Gluck’s comedy Easy A. Using the tumultuous mix of humanity in high school, Gluck reveals the damage that gossip, deceit and adultery can do, even if done with good intent.

But this message is so overpowered by the mocking caricatures of virtually every individual — from principals, teachers and guidance counselors to parents, pastors, Christians and Californians — that it’s difficult to take the whole as anything but offensive and degrading. Based on the writing of Bert Royal, the film additionally weaves in an obvious sexual agenda.

The central character is a naïve high school coed in Ojai named Olive (Emma Stone). Olive is witty but lacks wisdom. The reason becomes obvious as we meet her stereotypically permissive, politically correct California parents who lack parenting skills, good boundaries and wisdom. This is true of the other caricatured parents as well, including the topless hippies who offer marijuana to Olive.

But this mocking of parents is only the beginning. The teacher is cool but clueless. The guidance counselor is a sexual predator and lacks any ability to guide. The church confessional is empty. The protestant pastor is dogmatic and hypocritical. The Christian students are judgmental and cultlike. The student body is gossiping and cruel. But in all of this, Olive begins the story as an oasis of reason — using her wit to survive.

However, when her friend Rhiannon (Alyson Michalka) pressures her for the details about a fictional date, Olive gets caught up in a string of lies: the tale of her first imaginary sexual experience with “George.” Overheard by the self-righteous preacher’s kid, Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the rumors about her soon permeate the school and Olive is branded a slut.

Gaining notoriety in a school that had ignored her, Olive begins to play out her fictional role unaware of the social and moral repercussions. We won’t reveal what happens, but lies build upon lies, and soon Olive’s life has become unrecognizable and she turns to others for help — all of whom fail her.

In the end, the film attempts to give Olive a way out of her predicament, but it’s not enough to redeem the damage done, either to her or the audience. Easy A is a film we do not recommend for anyone.

Discussion:

» High school is a difficult time in life. What was it like for you?

» When adults are ridiculed, it can keep adolescents from turning to them for help. Do you believe this film will do that? Why or why not?

» Do you believe the sexual agenda of this film is harmful? Why or why not?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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