Sunday, April 10, 2011

A for Effortless

Is there an established genre for movies like Easy A - comeidies about quirky, smart talking teens who are are just too smart and sophisticated to fit in? Because I think I like them. Like Olive (Emma Stone), I was an alienated kid who lonely because I was smarter than everyone. I was always making brilliant wisecracks that nobody else got. Also, my good looks intimidated all of the girls - OK, I'm not kidding anyone...

Stone plays a nice, shy girl at a high school in Ojai CA who tells her obnoxious best friend that she lost her virginity. Next, a closeted friend asks her to pretend to have sex with him, to give him hetero cred. Soon, she is pretending to have sex with half the outcasts in school. She is considered the school slut by everyone else, and starts wearing a scarlet A in defiance.

The tone is breezy and light. One of the nicest parts is Stone's family, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson and adopted brother Bryce Clyde Jenkins. They are far from the standard clueless parents - close and supportive without being clingy or smothering. Thomas Haden Church has a nice role as the Cool Teacher, and his wife, Jennifer Aniston, makes a satisfying villain.

Youth in Revolt has a similar feel, but from a boy's point of view. Michael Cera is a teenage virgin whose love of Sinatra, Fellini and, well, culture makes him an outcast in his hometown of Oakland. When his trashy mom's trashier boyfriend (Zach Galifianakis) has to hide out in a trailer park in Clear Lake, Cera meets the girl of his dreams, Portia Doubleday. She likes Belmondo and Serge Gainsborough, and would be perfect for him, but she likes French bad boys.

So Cera develops and alter ego, Francois Dillinger, who wears a French moustache, smokes and likes to blow things up. That's sure to make her fall for him.

Nitpicking Dept: I know I bring this up every time, but the young women in both of these movies are beautiful, which makes the stories a little implausible. But not entirely:

  1. In Easy A, why doesn't a girl who looks like Emma Stone have boyfriends swarming all around? Well, she clearly states that this is her version of the story -unreliable narrator. Maybe she isn't that good looking in "real life", and maybe she isn't as completely ignored as she lets on. It makes a better story.
  2. In Youth in Revolt, Doubleday is not a beautiful girl who is mysteriously available - here boyfriend is a handsome intelligent poet, target of every girl in school. She just happens to like Cera, too.
In conclusion, it looks like I have to watch Juno now. 


mr. schprock said...

Definitely watch Juno.

I don't know if you watch movies like Superbad or Knocked Up, but how is it that the okay- to sub-okay looking guys tend to score beautiful girls in movies of that ilk? Don't some filmmakers care about the suspension of disbelief?

And let's not kid anybody: I remember very well how your good looks intimidated the girls back in high school. They used to intimidate me in fact.

David said...

I'm not sure it has anything to do with believability in a literal sense, just like we don't go to Batman movies because we think he can shoot spider webs from his wrists.

For me the question is why do girls identify with women several notches higher than themselves, while identifying their boyfriends with schlubs (& vice versa)?

Is it what Cathleen Schine said? ... that all women are Mme Bovary, happy to consume as 'realistic' stories letting them identify with beautiful women who magically have none of the bad traits linked to being catered to & hit on constantly?