Olive Penderghast flaunts through the halls
(Sony Pictures Releasing)

If We’re Remaking 2000s Teen Comedies, We’ve Got a Suggestion

Now that the questionable hype around the Mean Girls remake is fizzling out, it’s high time we talked about a different 2000s teen comedy that would actually slot quite comfortably into the remake machine.

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Now, before you say anything, yes, I know it’s not as simple as the new Mean Girls being a remake of the 2004 film. I know it’s a film adaptation of the stage musical, and I also know that without the stage musical’s existence, a remake probably wouldn’t have happened. To that point, I’m also aware that the movie I’m about to declare as deserving of a remake probably doesn’t need one either, but since the new Mean Girls movie exists, I see no reason not to figuratively pile on to the creative anarchy that is Hollywood’s obsession with circling back to the classics and wrapping everything up in intellectual property.

Anyway, as far as teen comedies go, Easy A deserves to be on the remake list.

Easy A is textbook remake material

In saying all of this, it’s important to keep in mind exactly what makes a movie a good candidate for a remake.

Generally speaking—and this is a rule that we’d be unwise to think Hollywood will ever regularly follow—a good remake candidate is a movie that didn’t quite reach the heights it probably could have, and could therefore do with a fresh pair of creative eyes and hands to help realize its potential; think Treasure Planet, In the Mouth of Madness, and the Kurt Russell-led Road House (the latter of which actually is getting a remake, and it looks like a mighty fine remake at that).

At a glance, Easy A doesn’t fall into this category; the heights it did reach are admirable. Olive Penderghast is a mostly great protagonist that Emma Stone portrayed to near perfection, and recapturing even an impression of that would be a tricky undertaking.

But a closer look suggests otherwise. Easy A deals with a plethora of curious themes, from our obsession with anyone other than ourselves (particularly their sex lives) to the cultural nuance of sexual activity being a social pro for men and a social con for women, to understanding niceness as a pejorative, and—perhaps most elusively—the idea that the worst thing you can do is nothing. That’s a lot of ideas to juggle in what’s mostly a character-driven comedy, and it shows upon a rewatch.

Beyond that, the film’s referential humor ever-so-slightly overstays its welcome, and it plays in the heightened reality supplied by the comedy genre just a bit too safely to really make the most of it. (Its descendants Booksmart and Bottoms could teach it a thing or two about that).

Indeed, when you really think about it, Easy A isn’t quite the best version of itself that it could be, hence why revisiting it would yield much more nutritious mileage than something like Mean Girls, a remake that didn’t really do anything beyond retreading the same references we’ve all been making for the last 20 years while sprinkling a collectively inconsequential jumble of musical numbers across its runtime.

What might an Easy A remake do differently?

Roadmapping exactly what an Easy A remake could do to improve upon the original would take far too long, but there is one key, incredibly flawed aspect of Olive’s character arc that could serve as the prime starting point.

Now, we know that this loose Scarlet Letter adaptation started with a lie, but not the lie that you probably first think of. Olive originally lied about a date with an imaginary guy named George so that she could get out of going camping with her friend Rhiannon (who really doesn’t seem like much of a friend) and her overly-eccentric parents. She chooses the lie instead of simply telling Rhiannon that she doesn’t want to go.

And just like that, the complexities of Olive’s character are on full display. Olive is a witty, hilarious, and genuinely charming person, and yet she seems entirely void of a sense of self. She may set boundaries when it counts the most, like during her pseudo-date with Anson, but time and time again she throws her boundaries out the window to be nice to people.

Make no mistake; this is a character flaw. There’s absolutely something to be said about the malicious compliance of the men involved in Olive’s lies (especially later on in the film), as they beg her to pretend to have had sex with them, mostly in order to boost their social profile. Olive doesn’t “help” out of the goodness of her heart—Olive “helps” because she’s unable to communicate and demonstrate her boundaries in the face of someone asking something from her. This lack of self-advocacy could be an interesting launchpad for some uplifting character development. Instead, it’s exactly what drives her relationship with Todd.

Let’s not forget that Olive first allowed people to lie about their sexual relationships with her back in middle school, when she let Todd falsely say he kissed her when they were paired together for “7 Minutes in Heaven,” and Todd doesn’t make light of the fact that he remembers that really nice thing that Olive did for him all those years ago. Sure, he thinks she’s funny and smart too, but it’s that nice thing she did that seems to be responsible for most of their spark.

So all of a sudden, this very blatant, story-driving character flaw—one that comes back to bite her relentlessly with the hope that she’ll figure out she’s making self-destructive choices—becomes retroactively instrumental in eventually gifting Olive the man of her dreams. The behavior of the people around her deserved to be called out, and she does so quite cathartically, but what does Olive actually learn? And, by extension, what is Easy A really saying at that point?

Of course, there’s no telling what an Easy A remake might look like, but re-examining Olive’s growth as a character would definitely make for a solid creative springboard, and the ensuing ripple effect would no doubt help lift the film’s themes and messaging far beyond where they currently sit.

And for the love of God, let a woman write it, and let a woman direct it.

(featured image: Sony Pictures Releasing)

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Charlotte Simmons
Charlotte is a freelance writer at The Mary Sue and We Got This Covered. She's been writing professionally since 2018 (a year before she completed her English and Journalism degrees at St. Thomas University), and is likely to exert herself if given the chance to write about film or video games.