“Love, Simon” Brings John Hughes Brilliance To A Modern World

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By Scott Kurland

Film: Love, Simon

Starring: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Alexandra Shipp, Katherine Langford, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Tony Hale

Rated PG-13

Director: Greg Berlanti

                Its quite shocking how so many people forgot how mature John Hughes was as a filmmaker. Yes, he made goofy films like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Weird Science,” but he also made sensitive dramedies like “The Breakfast Club” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.” I think the reason so many film fanatics forget this is because the goofy films outnumber the sensitive pieces which Hughes directed during the early years of his career.  When I saw this week’s film “Love, Simon,” I was reminded of early Hughes. Let’s find out what I mean by that, shall we?

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                “Love, Simon” stars Nick Robinson from “Jurassic World” as the titular Simon. Simon has a good life, great friends (Alexandra Shipp, Katherine Langford, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), wonderful parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel), and one huge secret….he’s gay. When one of his fellow classmates secretly comes out of the closet online using the screen name BLUE, Simon takes this opportunity to reach out to Blue (anonymously of course) and come out to his new online friend.  The more Blue and Simon talk, the more comfortable they become with each other and themselves. Things get complicated once Simon's secret is discovered by a fellow classmate (Logan Miller) who uses it to blackmail Simon. Will Simon be able to keep his online relationship with Blue despite the chaos in his life? Or is it time for him to finally come out to his friends and family?

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                I really liked this film quite a bit, and the fact that we’re living in a time where films like “Love, Simon” and “Call Me By Your Name” receive the praise they deserve.  Had a film such as “Love, Simon” been released a decade or two before, it would not have been aimed at a teenage demographic. Due to the subject matter, the MPAA would have slapped it with an R rating. Thankfully, times have changed for the better and this film is rated PG-13. I love what Berlanti did with Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker’s script. Simon is a fully realized two-dimensional character. He is written with insecurities, fears, and he always showcases his good heart. Berlanti is mostly known for his work with shows like “Everwood,” “Arrow,” and “Brothers & Sisters,” which makes a lot of sense. This film could have easily been a pilot for a CW show. That’s not nearly as bad as it sounds, because CW shows have some of the most fully-realized teenage voices on TV. I think that’s what I like most about this film. It has a nice flow and accessible characters played by talented young actors.

                When I heard that Nick Robinson gave up the chance to return to “Jurassic World” in favor of making this film, I couldn’t help but think: “That’s a bold move, hopefully it pays off.” It paid off, Robinson gives a star-making performance. As I stated before, Simon is fully realized, but it is Robinson’s performance that provides the movie with a solid foundation. Robinson brings a likable sensitivity to Simon that makes him incredibly empathetic. Simon feels like a real high school student. In fact, all the actors portraying high schoolers in this movie feel like real teenagers. Even so, Robinson is the reason that you should take the drive to the nearest theater. Watching his journey is what makes this film worth the price of admission.

                I mentioned John Hughes earlier, and I stand by my statement. This feels like a Hughes movie which means it has all the poor Hughes clichés mixed in with the good ones. We get the stereotypical geek who blackmails Simon; something I found frustrating. However, it didn’t make me like the film any less. I just became more aware of the Hughes-ism more clearly. Trust me, it checks off all the Hughes boxes. There’s the misunderstood lead, the geeky side-character, and a lot of teenagers who fall into high school cliques. There were times this film felt like a by-the-numbers teen movie, but I was easily able to overlook them.

                “When it comes to identifying and understanding one's emotions, "Love Simon" is to teenagers what “Inside Out” was to young children. I think this is a strong movie; though not nearly as powerful as “Call Me By Your Name.” Nevertheless, it is still a great film that teenagers and parents should see together. “Love, Simon” is a must-see film, especially if you love the Hughes generation.

REVIEW RATING: B+

scott kurland