High school coming-out comedy is warm, funny and important
“Love, Simon” is like a lot of glossy high school comedies, and it's also very specifically not like any we've seen before. And that's exactly what makes it so important.
It's well in the vein of the teen romantic comedies of John Hughes, and there's a clear influence of those '90s staples like “Clueless” and “10 Things I Hate About You.” But there's one important difference: The movie features a gay protagonist.
Abundantly heartfelt and consistently funny, “Love, Simon” has a unique place in the canon of LGBTQ cinema, in part for how sweetly ordinary this coming-out story plays out. Oh, and the fact that it's a slick, big studio release.
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson of “Jurassic World”) is not your typical moody teenager. His opening narration reveals he's got a pretty typical and generally happy existence. He's got a great circle of friends. He's got a loving and supportive family.
There's just this one thing: Nobody knows he's gay.
Simon's senior year begins with a twist. When another gay classmate anonymously reveals his own status on a high school confessions blog, Simon creates a new email account to contact him. Simon uses the pseudonym “Jacques,” while his classmate he only knows as “Blue.”
Amid a backdrop of high school love drama playing out among his friends, Simon develops feelings for Blue. As he's trying to learn Blue's identity, he comes closer to finding his own.
Director Greg Berlanti delivers the best comedy of the year so far in a poppy wrapping paper … and with a poppy soundtrack overseen by Bleachers' Jack Antonoff. “Love, Simon” is warm and fun in all the right places, and it tugs the heartstrings, too.
In the first major studio film to feature a gay teen lead character, Robinson is near-perfect in the role, capturing Simon's joys and struggles with a universality of young love.
Simon doesn't face the challenges of a lot of kids when coming out, and he knows it. His parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) are liberal and loving. There are some complications with his friends, but he knows they love him. But he still needs to reveal his truth in his way and on his terms.
And while Simon's tale has more than a few ups and downs and Blue herrings, his story is an important depiction of someone who doesn't face all the adversities a gay teen can. It's great that kids can see it can be like this.
I know this movie wasn't made for me, but I'm so glad it exists for those kids it was. And since some of them may not even be ready to go see this in the theater, you should. Because it's not only worth your money, it's also worth your support.