Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini


Love, Simon

Love, Simon
Starring:
Nick Robinson, Logan Miller, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner and Alexandra Shipp


Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual references, language and teen partying.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 16, 2018 Released by: Twentieth Century Fox

The new film from Greg Berlanti (writer and producer of small-screen fare like Dawson's Creek and Riverdale) draws exuberantly from Becky Albertalli's first (YA) novel in the spirit of vintage John Hughes 80s cinema, like Pretty In Pink and Sixteen Candles. Except that the lead character in Love, Simon is "a closeted gay high-school student" (like the director himself), a first for mainstream Hollywood, after being depicted so poignantly and proficiently in recent independent silver-screen ventures like Moonlight and Call Me By Your Name.

First love for a teen in this type of coming-of-ager has an honest relatable quality of the ups and downs where self-understanding and acceptance is key which essentially is a compassionate, cutting-edge crowd-pleaser. Especially in the moment of social media which adds much drama and entropy to the critical high school experience.

It helps a lot that the 17-year-old upperclassman titular character with surname Spier (with a solid family unit and decent coterie) is exhibited by Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) in a shaggy, sweet, witty way keeping a secret he's had for some time after an ongoing dream of Daniel Radcliffe.

A school on-line forum becomes central to the narrative (having the feel of a sit-com) from This Is Us scribes Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker when Simon uses a pseudonym to reach out to the similarly struggling 'Blue,' trying to guess his identity as a deeper bond ensues. But, smart-aleck hacker Martin (Logan Miller) turns blackmailer on Simon unless he fixes him up with one of his friends, alluring transfer student Abby (Alexandra Shipp).

A delineation and affirmation has significance in many ways because of Berlanti's personal and professional imprint and affectionate approach to Albertalli (who was a psychologist before an author). Obviously, in a manner which clicks with the zeitgeist (even it movies are way behind television in this focus) with a humorous outlet fantasy sequence including the music of Whitney Houston.

Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel are Simon's good-looking, liberal, a little-out-there parents, and the paradigm of the genre extends to a loopy school director (Tony Hale), as well as the pragmatic drama teacher (a priceless Natasha Rothwell). Not to mention long-time Simon infatuating Leah (a diffident Katherine Langford), affable jock and Simon counter Nick (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), beside Shipp's enviable Abby in his amicable corner.

So, if Love, Simon doesn't make the desired strides narratively there's something bona fide and intimate about the confusion and burgeoning concerning romance and friendship. Propelled and projected in ways that parallel the current #MeToo accounts. As portrayed with sincerity into the anguish and ecstasy by Robinson an affecting, lovable "Simon" soundly professes how difficult and long it can take to easily fit into your shoes.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Gerry Matt Claudette Jennifer Audralee Nina  Avg. 
Love, Simon  B      B            B            B 

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