Love, Simon (2018)

  • Time: 109 min
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Romance
  • Director: Greg Berlanti
  • Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner


A young coming-of-age teenage boy, Simon Spier, goes through a different kind of Romeo and Juliet story. Simon has a love connection with a boy, Blue, by email, but the only problem is that Simon has no idea who he’s talking to. Simon must discover who that boy is–who Blue is. Along the way, he tried to find himself as well.


  • (RATING: ☆☆☆½ out of 5 stars)

    GRADE: B-


    IN BRIEF: An entertaining “coming out” of age film that rarely exceeds its sit-com trappings.

    JIM’S REVIEW: Today we are said to live in a bubble, a parallel universe that protects us from real events. Love, Simon is that place. It purports to be a real world totally accepting of LGBT rights and bereft of any menacing prejudice. People there have a high tolerance of diversity issues too. Would that this world be just a tad like the characters and place in this entertaining comedy! But it’s not…and that is the main problem I had with this loving but dishonest story.

    First, let me vent: We are dealing with major problems of hate crimes, gay conversion therapy, and the stripping away of human rights in our real world. None of those obstacles exist here. This is pure sit-com land, without a laugh track but with a wink and a nod to John Hughes’ popular teenage comedies in the 80’s. However, the main character has now transgendered into the Molly Ringwald hero this time around. One may say that I am being overly sensitive to the subject…it’s a COMEDY, one that gives today’s generation of gay teenagers (and yes, they do exist) a big OK to be who you are. You may say get over it! And I guess that having this film produced and distributed by a major studio is definitely a step forward. I just wish it took more chances.

    That said, I do not want to be too hard on this film. Love, Simon is an extremely good movie, earnest in its intentions but more unexceptional in its execution. It has much to say, even if it delivers its message far too subtly. That message of tolerance and self-worth can be clearly heard and may be the most important statement about this “coming out” of age tale.

    We are introduced to a likable title character who lives in an affluent suburbia community. Simon has known that he is gay for a long time, but he is leery about sharing that secret with his parents and friends, fearing any negative reaction. He is in search of love and he decides to find it, anyway possible, including contacting an anonymous online lover named Blue. This invisible gay character becomes a bit of a mystery for Simon and the moviegoing audience as well as Simon fantasizes some of his teenage friends and acquaintances in that role.

    The screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (adapted from Becky Albertalli’s Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda) has many clever moments, turning the tables on our perceived biases. We empathizes with Simon through his many well-written confessional voiceovers which define his confused state of mind. The script establishes its stock characters (the loyal girlfriend, the funny sidekick, the hunky friend, the drama club type, etc.) and gives them some unexpected quirkiness that diverts our interest. But it lacks the courage to delve into a real gay relationship with any new insight.

    The film is solidly directed by Greg Berlanti for mass audience appeal. Too bad he homogenizes the gay conquest angle, barely registering even a simple kiss, let alone any more graphic sexual awakening scene. Rest assure, love will be found In this sanitized PG -13 version with a simple tender kiss being the only sexual affirmation given to Simon and mainstream teenage audiences.  Nevertheless, it is all innocuous diverting fun, mostly due to its engaging cast.

    Nick Robinson plays Simon and he is a delight. The actor elevates the story with his sincere and touching interpretation of a boy trying to find himself. He brings with him the perfect charm and charisma needed to make this story work. Many fine young actors complete the teenage cast, although they all seem more twenty-somethings than real teenagers. This winning ensemble include Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Logan Miller, Kelynan Lonsdale, Clark Moore, and Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., and all do a commendable job. The adults in the cast are left at the perimeters of the teenage angst in sketchy roles, but Tony Hale and especially Natasha Rothwell add that needed comic spark with their ironic comments and sharp comic timing. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel play Simon’s caring parents and deliver their tender familial moments very well.

    Love, Simon is a most assuredly a crowdpleaser, but it is more Like, Simon for this reviewer.

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  • As directed by Greg Berlanti and written by This Is Us scribes Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, Love, Simon is an appealing teen romantic drama that would be like most of its ilk were it not for the fact that it has a gay protagonist at its center. Of course, this is not the first film that has dealt with the romantic travails of a homosexual lead character – one only has to look to last year’s Academy Award-nominated Call Me By Your Name to see one of the best examples of queer cinema – but it is the first to be released by a major studio, thus marking a significant milestone for LGBT cinema.

    “For the most part, my life is totally normal,” high schooler Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) shares in the film’s opening voiceover. Indeed, his life seems an idealised version of normal. His parents are happily married high school sweethearts – Jack (Josh Duhamel) was the star quarterback and Emily (Jennifer Garner) the valedictorian. Simon and his younger sister Nora (Talitha Bateman) have such a loving relationship they can’t even fake friction. Then there are his close friends Leah (Katherine Langford), Abby (Alexandra Shipp), and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.). Yet, for all the love and support that surround him, Simon has yet to reveal his biggest secret: he’s gay.

    Though the film appears content to breeze along, there is a plot to be thickened and so an anonymous blog post surfaces. Under the pseudonym of “Blue,” a fellow student reveals he’s gay. Empathy piqued, Simon reaches out to Blue and the two soon embark on a correspondence, with the two soon falling in love. Yet neither knows the other’s true identity and when another student outs Simon, Simon must deal with the consequences of being out.

    For those wanting a bit more substance, the film becomes more interesting once Simon’s sexual orientation is revealed to his friends and family. Their reaction is hurt and disappointment, not because he’s gay, but rather because he took such great pains to cover up the fact. Yet even this discordance barely lasts. Though it’s outlook might be a bit la vie en rose for its own good, it’s actually what makes Love, Simon subversive in its own way. The fact that it can be so interchangeable with other high school rom-coms is the point; everyone undergoes the same base experiences and the film’s conventional and sitcom-ish quality undergirds rather than undermines the tale’s universality.

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