Anyone who’s read at least a handful of my posts knows I don’t have a great track record with YA. It’s definitely my least favorite age group, and while I keep trying, I seem to have very little success with the books I pick up.
Knowing that, you’ll probably be surprised to find that I went with a friend to go see Love, Simon, the new movie based off Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. The friend I went with is possibly one of the only people I would ever go see a contemporary YA romance movie with. At best, I was expecting to fall asleep fifteen minutes into the movie.
Hold onto your hats, friends, because…
I really enjoyed it!
That’s right – I, Milliebot, actually enjoyed not only a movie (I know I don’t talk about them much on here, but in the past few years I’ve been unimpressed with or disinterested in like, almost every movie released)) but a YA romance movie full of teen drama, crushes and semi-pretentious youngsters who dress up like Lennon and Yoko for Halloween and regularly listen to The Kinks (side note: I’m considering putting Simon into the Manic Pixie Dream Boy category.)
If you haven’t heard about the book or movie, it centers around Simon, a senior (at least, I think he is) living in a small town and hiding a big secret from everyone he knows – he’s gay. When someone posts an anonymous confession on the popular social media site that everyone in school uses, talking about how they’re gay and have been hiding it, Simon is inspired to email the other boy. They begin a series of anonymous emails to each other that prove cathartic to both boys. As Simon begins to realize his feelings for the unknown student, someone else sees his emails and threatens to expose Simon. Emotional drama ensues.
I’ve obviously not read the book, so I can’t speak to the movie’s authenticity on that front. But I found it to be humorous in the right places (Tony Hale and Natasha Rothwell were particularly well-played faculty members), well-acted and cast, and sweet. The teens were probably normal enough (I can only compare them to Teen Milliebot and her friends, who would likely be categorized as unfashionable, loud-mouthed, annoying weirdos by today’s standards) and came with the usual friend-group drama that’s to be expected at that age. The adults were background characters and Simon’s parents were a bit too perfect, but at the same time, it was nice to see an example of an open-minded and accepting couple.
I enjoyed that the main characters were unrecognizable actors (to me, anyway). I get tired of seeing the same old faces and it makes it easier to become immersed in the character’s lives when I’m not comparing them to other roles or something. Nick Robinson (Simon) did a particularly good job. He was likable, good-natured, funny and emotionally believable. He also wears the hoodie/jean jacket combo well.
The “twist” of the movie was Simon trying to figure out which boy from his town he was emailing and I enjoyed trading guesses with my friend about who it would be. I changed my answer about a million times but ended up reverting back to my first guess, which was correct. I also liked the scenes where Simon’s imagination took over, his fantasy about being openly gay in college being my favorite. Simon’s struggles with coming out to his friends and family and not feeling like he should even have to (straight people don’t have to come out, he notes – this is also another good fantasy scene) gave the movie substance and kept it from being overly saccharine.
I could have done without the shrieking, clapping tweenies throughout the theater, but that’s what I get for going to see a movie on a Friday night. It’s not like people don’t clap during stupid Marvel movies too. You guys know the actors can’t hear you right? It’s not a play…
Overall, I’d dub this a “feel good” movie. I enjoyed the sweet ending and the level of serious emotion throughout was just right for me. I’m not sure I think it’s worth the $15.00 per ticket I paid, but that’s really an issue with theaters, not the movie. I would watch it again if it came on Netflix. If you enjoy YA contemporary novels or love stories in general, it’s a safe bet you’ll enjoy Love, Simon.
*image from IMDB