Monday, March 26, 2018

[Review] Love, Simon

In the spirit of great modern teen movies like The Perks of Being A Wildflower and The Edge of Seventeen, the new high school dramedy Love, Simon is a triumphant and inclusive-minded coming-of-age gem for the meme and .gif generation that's fully worth embracing.

Simon (Nick Robinson) is a fairly content senior in high school, counting down the days until graduation. He has a tight-knit group of friends, a wholesome family, and a nice house in the suburbs. But he has one huge secret: He's gay. The story follows Simon as he deals with the struggles, pressures, and worries of coming out at such a pivotal time in his life. And along the way, he sparks up an internet relationship -- You've Got Mail style -- with an anonymous penpal who's dealing with the same stuff... and who also goes to the same school.

Love, Simon is an immensely likable film. It's warm, charming, hilarious, heartfelt, thoughtful, and seat-squirmingly awkward, and it somehow manages to stray away from ever getting too cheesy or melodramatic. The fantastic, commendably well-rounded script brings a surprisingly consistent amount of laughs -- the breezy dialogue is stuffed with funny one-liners and slick referential humor (the "Game of Thrones" bit is a hoot). And while most of the film fits the essential "feel-good" mold, there are definitely some affecting downs. Like Simon's predicament, there's always a sense of uneasiness, especially in the second half as the drama ramps up and things really hit the fan. There's even an intriguing thread of mystery to it all, as we're constantly trying to figure out who Simon's anonymous penpal is -- we basically don't know any more than he does.

The film is also chalked with memorable, spunky, and sympathetic characters. Nick Robinson, who came off as frustratingly bland in 2015's Jurassic World, returns to his Kings of Summer potential here with a very good lead performance. But the supporting cast of friends leave even more of an impression, including Katherine Langford ("13 Reasons Why"), Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Alexandra Shipp (Tragedy Girls). Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel solidly play Simon's parents, and Duhamel, in particular, gives an impressive turn (between this and the Taco Bell Nacho Fries commercial, he's really been killing it lately). Tony Hale ("Arrested Development", "Veep") even drops in with an amusing role as the school's harmlessly try-hard, wannabe cool principal. But all in all, the adults ultimately take a backseat to the kids in this movie.

With all of the mishaps, miscommunications, misdirections, and mix-ups in Love, Simon's whirlwind of a plot -- one clear and important message never gets lost in translation: We're all human and we deserve to be ourselves.

* 8.5/10 *

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