Love, Simon (2018)

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

Storyline:

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.

One review

  • (RATING: ☆☆☆½ out of 5 stars)

    GRADE: B-

    THIS FILM IS RECOMMENDED.

    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.

    Visit my blog at: http://www.dearmoviegoer.com 

    ANY COMMENTS: Please contact me at: jadepietro@rcn.com

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