Really good romantic comedies are few and far between. They’ve got to have just the right amount of schmaltz, likeable characters that you root for, and crucially, they need to be genuinely funny.
For every When Harry Met Sally… or Roman Holiday there are scores of Just My Lucks or The Proposals – the tons of films that either just miss the mark, are total howlers, or are adaptations of Nicholas Sparks’ books, which all end up going straight into the romcom junkyard.
But sometimes somebody just gets it right, which is what happened in 2010 with Easy A. The film, directed by Will Gluck, was a surprise success, making $75 million worldwide and launching its lead Emma Stone to superstardom.
Telling the story of Olive Penderghast (Emma Stone), an anonymous teenager in Ojai, California, who suddenly finds herself at the centre of her high school’s biggest scandal when a lie about losing her virginity gets out of hand, Easy A turns usual romcom tropes on their head and imbues them with wry wit. Stone shines as the immensely likeable Olive, and you find yourself invested in the teenager’s story in a way that feels like a rarity in romcoms.
Stone is surrounded by a host of brilliant supporting characters. Her brash, social climbing best pal Rhiannon (Aly Michalka), devout Christian Marianne Bryant who’s determined to ruin Olive’s life (played by Amanda Bynes at her best) and her refreshingly straightforward love interest “Woodchuck” Todd (Penn Badgley). And then there’s Olive’s parents Dill and Rosemary (Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson), who are one of the films highlights with their brilliant attempts at parenting.
Easy A sat alone as one of the few romcoms in the past decade that made a mark, and received both critical and commercial success. At the end the story was wrapped up, you weren’t left with many questions, and were happy in the knowledge that Olive got her own version of a happily ever after. Which is why when last night it was announced that Easy A would be getting a spinoff film, it was a bit of a disappointment. Not because it’s necessarily going to be bad – but because if something was so good why, ruin it?
The spinoff could, of course, be great. And I hope it is. And some of the first details sound promising – they’ve reportedly got Bert Royal (who wrote Easy A) to write and direct the next instalment, which means it’s in a safe pair of hands.
But come of the details are equally disappointing – Variety have also reported that the film will “explore many of the same themes as the original Easy A”, and won’t feature much (if any) of the cast from the first film (it’s set to focus on new students and teachers at the same highschool). So really, what it feels like at the moment, is the film is going to be something of a remake, or a rehash of the original. Which absolutely doesn’t need to happen.
Easy A worked as it felt fresh and exciting and devoid of clichés, doing something that romantic comedies weren’t doing in 2010. It worked as because the script was sly and quick and it has an excellent cast that could keep up with it. It worked because it had Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson stealing the show as quite possibly the best on-screen parents of all time.
Copying that formula now would be boring, uninspired and insipid. And it could ruin the memory of what is now a cult favourite romcom. We don’t need to know what happened to Olive next. I’m happy in the knowledge that she got to ride off on a lawnmower a la Can’t Buy Me Love with “Woodchuck” Todd.
So please, Will Gluck, Bert V. Royal et al, leave Easy A alone and don’t ruin its memory. Or at the very least, just make the film about Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson’s adventures once their kids have both left home. That’s a film we all want to see.