Looking Back at 2010s Films: Love, Simon (2018)

2 Oct

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By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, let me just get this out of the way about Martin, the most detestable character in “Love, Simon”–if you didn’t KNOW that little turd in high school, then chances are you probably WERE that little turd in high school.

Martin’s not a “bad guy,” per se–a bully, maybe…OK, definitely a bully, but why? He’s desperate and pathetic and overly confident in himself in his embarrassing attempts to make friends and gain the attention of girls he likes, and he’s completely oblivious to his own ridiculousness until it humiliates him royally.

So yeah, there’s no denying that this detestable little puke is all too real…but couldn’t he at least have gotten a slap on the wrist for his stupid, unforgivable deeds in the third act? Even when he tries to make things better at the end (and to be fair, he is genuinely sorry for what he did), he does it in such a way that I’m surprised no one beats him up for it. (Not to promote teen violence or anything.)

Why do we get to see two jerks we hardly knew get a verbal thrashing from a teacher for a gay-ridiculing cafeteria prank, and yet Martin, whose cockiness and blackmail got the story moving, gets off scot-free? Maybe that’s what ticks me off about it more.

OK, moving on.

The film is about a closeted homosexual teen, named Simon (Nick Robinson), working up the courage to come out to his family and friends. The only one who knows his secret is an anonymous pen pal (and Simon keeps his identity a secret too), with whom he corresponds back and forth. An obnoxious classmate (Martin, played by Logan Miller) finds the emails and uses them as blackmail to get closer to Simon’s friend on whom he has a crush.

It’s a 2010s mainstream teen comedy-drama, complete with likable characters, comfortable suburban setting, a pop soundtrack, and…sensitizing real issues so as to address them to the audience without scaring them away, so that they’re not depressed but they’ve learned something after having some laughs too. You’ve seen this with mental illness in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” cancer in “The Fault in Our Stars,” and depression in “The Edge of Seventeen.” The lighthearted “Love, Simon” doesn’t ignore the difficulties of a gay kid coming out, but it doesn’t entirely play for realism either. Instead, it’s charming and likable for the same reasons “Perks,” “Fault,” and “Seventeen” are charming and likable.

But then again, experiences are different for everybody, so you could say that this is just how this kid and his family & friends react to this one.

Nick Robinson is wonderful as Simon–I liked him in other movies (“The Kings of Summer,” “Jurassic World”), but here, he was given the right role that gave him an opportunity to shine.

I also like his friends, played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (who I liked in “Brigsby Bear”), Alexandra Shipp (Storm), and Katherine Langford (best known for “13 Reasons Why”…will I ever watch that?)–they’re a fresh, likable bunch. When Langford reveals a secret of her own, I felt for her.

Jennifer Garner as Simon’s mother gives a wonderful speech to her son late in the film; it’s one of her best moments as an actress.

And…why am I always so reluctant to talk about Martin, even when I want to give credit to actor Logan Miller for playing him so uncompromisingly obnoxious?

“Love, Simon” deserves more than 3 stars from me (which I gave it in my original review)–maybe a 3 1/2 for doing so many things well. I especially like its overall message that could be the new “Life moves pretty fast”: “No matter what, announcing who you are to the world is pretty terrifying.” And that about sums it up.

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