This adaptation of a widely regarded novel does a decent job of capturing the high-school experience, maybe not with a boldly, cynical deftness of something like Heathers in most offering some insight and feeling to may seem rather generic.
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller, and these leading players give first-time helmer Stephen Chbosky (who adapts his book) what he needs to make it palatable and more accessible to a wider audience (given the film's rating for those who know the source).
Set in the 1990s, the sympathetic main character is Lerman's troubled outsider in Charlie embarking as a freshman who is taken under the wing of an exuberantly off-center brother Patrick, a fine Miller, and his half-sister, Sam, endowed with precocious savvy by Watson (My Week With Marilyn).
The mood here is adequately downplayed to creditable emotional effect as Charlie and Sam are drawn together in part by the love of similar alternative music; in this way the film through the academic may have some recalling a winning Wonder Boys while from the aforementioned pair's milieu some might have Garden State on their mind.
There is a first kiss and friends really getting into a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as what may seem puffy to some regarding the ups and downs with the exasperation and giddiness of growing up has its darker underpinnings. Yet for some, the more forced poignant turns may not naturally come from those typical high-school dramatic moments. The narrative strand involving Patrick also has something reminiscent of the starkly powerful American Beauty as Miller (in a nice contrast from We Need To Talk About Kevin and solid in City Island) is nearly irreproachable in handling the demands of the part.
So, this somewhat heartfelt take on moving out of an understandable mental retreat may not have universal payoff the way Chbosky did it on the page, but the way the cast, including Paul Rudd and Mae Whitman in effective supporting roles, embrace the honest, if conventional treatment of the material, makes more irresistible than some viewers may wish to admit. Even with these young actors older than their parts they especially (particularly Miller) elevate the proceedings as love and philosophy intersect providing enough perks of a willowy if occasionally wavering "Wallflower."