“Love, Simon” is more than your average young adult novel adaptation. It’s one of those rare cases where the film actually elevates the original work. It’s heartwarming, laugh-out-loud funny and a new take on the teenage rom-com.
The film is based on Becky Albertalli’s novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.” The coming-of-age story focuses on high school student Simon Spier. Simon has a pretty normal life, from his family to his friends to his school. But Simon has a secret: he’s gay.
Only one person knows Simon’s secret. That’s Blue. Blue is Simon’s email penpal who is also in the closet. Neither Blue nor Simon know the other’s true identity (in his emails Simon goes by Jacques).
Simon’s secret grows more complicated when another student, drama nerd Martin (Logan Miller), finds his emails. Martin uses them to blackmail Simon into trying to hook him up with Simon’s friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp). Because Simon isn’t ready for his secret to be public knowledge, he helps Martin.
The high school depicted in “Love, Simon” is one of the more realistic portrayals we’ve seen come out of Hollywood in recent years. The awkward kids aren’t still weirdly jaw droppingly gorgeous, the school musical isn’t an over-the-top production fit for broadway, and people are wearing outfits you could actually wear with a high school dress code.
The cast of “Love, Simon” do an excellent job of bringing these characters to life. Nick Robinson (“Melissa & Joey,” “Jurassic World”) stars in the role of Simon and does a wonderful job portraying the emotional journey. His parents are played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel. Both have amazing parenting scenes that may just give you all the feels. I definitely got some eye sweat during the scene between Jennifer Garner and Nick Robinson.
The movie is also very funny — surprisingly funny in fact. And it’s not just the kids, some of the most comedic moments come from the vice principal and drama teacher. I went in expecting a couple chuckles, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to a couple cackles throughout the movie.
Adding to the list of great things about this movie is the soundtrack. Along with the amazing compilation soundtrack curated by Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, there are some great songs that play parts in Simon’s story.
While many movies intended for adult audiences have featured gay characters in lead roles, this is one of the first aimed at a younger audience. I’m sure many LGBTQ audience members will relate to Simon in ways that they haven’t been able to in our still largely heteronormative culture. Whether it be the pressure put on us to come out, or the fear that once we do everything we love will be irreversibly changed.
“Love, Simon” is a wonderful John Hughes type movie for modern times. While its story focuses on teenagers, I think people of all ages will be able to find something to connect to. It feels like it’s a movie people will want to watch over and over again with their friends and family. In a time when our Vice President believes in conversion therapy, this may not be the movie we deserve. But, it’s the movie many of us need.