Movie Beat: Nick Robinson fantastic in the adorable, heartwarming “Love, Simon”


Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual references, language and teen partying

Screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, based on the novel “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Starring Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Keiynan Lonsdale, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Logan Miller and more

Grade: Four stars

 

If you love teen romcoms, there hasn’t been much for you in movie theaters the last few years. Yes, there have been teen movies, but they’ve mostly either been based on John Green novels or a post-apocalyptic dystopia of some kind. If you’re the kind of fan looking for drama by the lockers, worry about the big dance, and the sweet moment of happily-ever-after at the very end, you’ve pretty much been out of luck.

Until now.

“Love, Simon,” opening in theaters this weekend, is everything you’ve been waiting for. An absolutely adorable story about a boy falling in love, growing up and learning to be true to himself, it’s got everything you could possibly ever want from the genre. Great characters played by a great cast, a sweet love story, some genuinely hilarious moments, and all of it capturing the feeling of being a teenager so perfectly that I got flashbacks to my own high school years as I watched it. If you love the genre, you’re going to love this movie.

Yes, the person our protagonist falls in love with is another boy, and his coming out of the closet is a significant plot point. But if you’re straight, I promise you that’s not something to be scared of. “Love, Simon” isn’t overly sexualized, or overly politicized, or overly anything, really. It’s just a sweet story about one boy trying to make his way in the world, and there’s so much about the movie that everyone can relate to no matter who they first fell in love with.

Simon has a great family that he loves, a great group of friends that he hangs out with all the time, and is happy with his place in school. So happy, in fact, that he doesn’t want to tell anyone he’s gay because he’s afraid that will change their perception of who he is. When he meets another closeted gay kid at his school through an anonymous school-based message board, however, it starts a chain of events that forces him to figure out how to be true to himself and still hold on to the life he loves so much.

Simon’s anonymous e-mail romance is actually one of the most innocent I’ve ever seen in a teen romcom, as full of tender feelings and the meanings of a single word as anything written by Jane Austen. His hope and sense of connection just pour off the screen, and your heart breaks a little for him every time he lets himself hope it’s someone he knows only to find out he’s wrong.

There’s also plenty of moments that will make you want to yell at the screen, because teenagers and people in romantic comedies can be idiots sometimes and Simon is in the unfortunate situation of being both. But you can understand why he and the other characters do what they do, even if it’s not always the best choice, and you’re happy for them when they learn and grow from their mistakes.

The entire cast is great, with Nick Robinson leading the pack as Simon. He perfectly conveys how intense every emotion is when you’re a teenager, from hope to heartbreak, and you can see everything he’s feeling on his face. You can feel how good a kid he is, and when it feels like his world is ending you can’t help but hurt for him.

So give “Love, Simon” a chance. You won’t regret it.

 

(Photo ©20th Century Fox)

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