‘Easy A’ Loves the 80s

The 2010 teenage comedy, Easy A, is a happy-go-lucky romantic comedy about a high school teenager played by Emma Stone, who’s an innocent girl that uses her school’s rumor mill to make a name for herself. The film is designed to take after the famous novel, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, because Emma Stone commits fake acts of adultery to gain popularity and status, but instead she gains an awful reputation.
Notably, this film is partially known for all of its famous 1980s movie references. The main character, Olive, creates these web diaries in which she shares information about all her exploits. One web diary in particular features her referencing all the great ’80s movies about romance, in which she opens with, “Whatever happened to chivalry? Does it only exist in ’80s movies?”
Here’s that web diary:
All these iconic ’80s movie references, in order are:
Say Anything, 1989

Say Anything, 1989

Can't Buy Me Love, 1987

Can’t Buy Me Love, 1987

Sixteen Candles, 1984

Sixteen Candles, 1984

The Breakfast Club, 1985

The Breakfast Club, 1985

And finally, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, 1986

And finally, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, 1986

Another subtle reference to an ’80s film occurs when the main character, Olive is sharing a moment with her love interest Todd. He lets her know he has fallen with her and over the radio we hear a Cary Brothers cover of the famous ’80s song “If You Were Here,” originally by Thompson Twins. This song is actually the song playing when Jake Ryan and Sam share their first kiss in Sixteen Candles!

Here’s the original song:
In the end of the film, Olive Pendergast does, in fact, get her perfect ’80s movie ending! We get 3 of those ’80s movie references again in this scene alone- Breakfast Club’s “Don’t You Forget About Me” is playing on the speakers Todd is holding over his head (Say Anything) and he even takes her on a lawnmower ride like in Can’t Buy Me Love. What a guy.
Here’s that final sequence:
You’re welcome.

“I Picked the Wrong Week to Quit Smoking/Drinking/Sniffing Glue”

Airplane!, which follows ex-Air Force pilot Ted Striker onto an ill-fated flight in an attempt to win his girlfriend, stewardess Elaine Dickinson, over again, is one of the funniest movies I have seen in a while. This hilarious film, which has little plot to speak of, shines in the sheer insanity of the situation that its characters must face. How the actors managed to stop themselves from laughing while filming this escapes me! Perhaps that is one of the things that make Airplane! so great… While all the actors take their roles seriously, the film itself is one long joke from start to finish.

One of my favorite parts of the film was the dialogue itself, which involves a lot of miscommunication among the characters. The “What is it?” gag, for example, is repeated several times:

Elaine Dickinson: You got a letter from headquarters this morning.
Ted Striker: What is it?
Elaine Dickinson: It’s a big building where generals meet. But that’s not important right now.

And later:

Dr. Rumack: You’d better tell the Captain we’ve got to land as soon as we can. This woman has to be gotten to a hospital.
Elaine Dickinson: A hospital? What is it?
Dr. Rumack: It’s a big building with patients. But that’s not important right now.

The movie is chock-full of this childish humor. Add to the mix an inflatable “Otto Pilot,” a guitar-playing nun, and a smoking, alcoholic, drug-taking air traffic controller and you have a perfect environment for nonstop laughter!

“Otto Pilot,” Elaine, and Ted in the cockpit!

Apart from “harmless” jokes, Airplane! also managed to work in some more serious topics, all while maintaining the humorous mood. The movie certainly has its share of racist humor – the African-Americans’ conversations in “Jive” are subtitled, a Japanese man commits hara-kiri, and an Indian man pours gasoline on himself and almost lights himself on fire in what I can only assume is a mockery of sati (even though the practice of sati only applies to Indian women). What caught me unawares was the talk of abortion in the very first minutes of the film. If I wasn’t expecting this, I can’t imagine how audiences must have felt about it in the 80s… By the end of the film, however, the viewer has forgotten this small transgression.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie, although how much of this is due to the fact that I watched it with my father rolling with laughter next to me, I can’t say.

P.S. I just found out that this movie was a spoof on a much more serious plane movie of the 50s – Zero Hour! Apparently, Airplane! is modeled on it exactly. Even the name Ted Striker is derived from Zero Hour!’s Ted Stryker.