March 16, 2018

Love, Simon is in theaters March 16th, 2018.

In years past, representation of anything non-hetero in television and film has been pretty dismal. Of course, there are exceptions to that statement -- Blue is the Warmest Colour, Milk, Moonlight -- but for the most part, on-screen homosexuality isn't typically captured or portrayed in a way that represents real life.
This is problematic for a profusion of reasons.
A lot of people realize their own sexual awakenings from a steamy scene on their favorite show. For me personally, I remember watching a K.D. Lang music video and having attraction to another person who was ALSO a female for the first time. Years later, I had a crush on Kyle MacLachlan.

If you know what both of these people look like, you're probably drawing a line from point A to point B that isn't quite straight, but definitely makes sense.
Right around that time, somewhere in the 90s, MacLachlan played Lang on Saturday Night Live and my life came full circle.

This digressed farther than I meant it to.
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is, as he will tell you, a pretty happy teen. His dad, Jack (Josh Duhamel) was the high school quarterback and married the "hot valedictorian", Emily (Jennifer Garner). He has a sister he actually likes, Nora (Talitha Bateman), who spends her days cooking and baking in the family's fabulous granite countertop kitchen.
When he's not at home in his impossibly cool bedroom that is literally covered in stickers and posters that represent his extensive love of music that a 17-year-old in 2018 wouldn't probably know about, Simon spends time with his BFFs, Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr., respectively).

He's in drama, loves iced coffee, and is practically connected via IV to his phone -- like any other teenager.
But, as he'll tell you himself, he's got one huge ass secret. Thinking he's the only one feeling this way, Simon is surprised when another student at school posts to an anonymous message board about being gay and not knowing what to do about it.
Simon takes it upon himself to reach out to his classmate to relate and the two wind up finding a safe space inside the anonymity bubble of the internet. Unfortunately, nothing gold can stay, and these intimate emails fall into the wrong hands.

Simon will have to potentially compromise his sacred friendships to keep his secret safe.
But why? Why would someone have to keep from their loved ones a detail of paramount importance to who they are?
Because the world is full of evil.
Simon suggests the idea that straight is the default and wonders why straight kids don't have to come out to their parents as well. It's worth taking a moment to truly consider that.
The message this movie sends across is that we should be able to love who we love and be who we are. I was there for it, too. I am 1000% on board with love is love. Love, Simon is charming, heartfelt, and quite well-written.

It was not lost on me that there was a montage set to "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)" by Whitney Houston featuring Jennifer Garner's movie son. If you'll recall, Garner had her own colorful montage set to that very song in 13 Going On 30. Yes, I remember that well. And daily. I'm saying all of this because -- while I enjoyed Love, Simon very much -- I couldn't help but think about the fact that real coming out stories don't often follow the same path as this one. I know plenty of people who've come out to families who no longer speak to them.

Love, Simon paints a picture of an idyllic family in this sort of utopia where the family is happy all the time and everything is beautiful. The kids at school all get along and there's a cheeky Vice Principal (Tony Hale) who doesn't quite get the kids but tries way too hard and it's comedic relief in all the right places.

I'm not trying to rain on this movie's parade at all. I thoroughly enjoyed myself -- to the point of tears. However, I do worry that kids who are struggling with their own identities might see this film and gain the hope that their stories might play out the way this one does.

Most of them won't. It's a travesty, but it's the reality of the situation. This movie is an escape from the world. Which is exactly what movies are supposed to be sometimes. Maybe someday, everyone who tells the world who they really are will be celebrated and a rainbow will appear out of nowhere and a fun 80s song will play while two people of the same sex kiss to the cheers of a crowd.

For now, we've got a movie that wants to lead us in that direction and has its heart in the right place. It's a pure delight in a time shrouded in abysmal grey fog. Love, Simon hits theaters this weekend. See it and then check out the equally playful and sweet soundtrack (available on Spotify) for some extra good vibes!

Love, Katie.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Katie Katie (Contributor) is a cinephile and Chicago native who has been reviewing film for nearly a decade. Her heroes include Roger Ebert and Jay Sherman -- it stinks!
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This movie made my heart swell and my eyes too! Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) plays Simon Spier, a gay teenager who is still in the closet and not even his best friend knows he’s gay. Through a website he gets and email address for someone else at school who is also gay and in the closet. Throughout the movie they get to know each other but their identities remain a secret.

Everything about this movie was emotionally evoking and I was ALL IN. I could relate so much to Leah Burke (Katherine Langford) who plays Simons best friend. She explains the angst and awkwardness of feeling left out and it was really touching because I know a lot of people can relate to those emotions - myself included.

This movie really took me by surprise, it was funny and sweet, it had a political message but it all just flowed together. I loved how it showed that just because we live in a more accepting world, that there are people who still struggle with who they are. Definitely recommend this one - I loved it!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

AshleyKAshley K. (Contributor) is a frequent traveler currently living in San Diego. She's a super nerd who enjoys all kinds of movies and doesn't always think the book was better.
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Teenage coming of age rom-coms are anything but young. For decades, countless entries into the genre have saturated the market. With flops and mediocrity in abundance, when a movie finally breaks the mold and stands out, it deserves appreciation. And ‘Love, Simon’ is exactly that film.

It serves as a coming-of- age story that harkens back to ‘Sixteen Candles’, ’10 Things I Hate About You’, and ‘Easy A’. The movie starts out with a teenage boy, Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), announcing that he’s normal and “just like you.” However, the movie turns this trope on its head as we discover that Simon isn’t talking to the audience. Instead, Simon has been keeping a big secret. Instead of ogling Gigi Hadid, Simon is instead complimenting the buff boy mowing the lawn next door.

Although Simon has a progressive mom (Jennifer Garner) who exclaims that her children are too repressed, a father (Josh Duhamel) with a sentimental heart who only wants the best for his son, and a group of ride-or- die friends who have his back, Simon isn’t ready to come out as gay. But when he sees a post on his school’s gossip site, he finds a pen pal who is going through the same thing he is. As he gets to know his pen pal, he finds himself smitten and is determined to find out who his secret love is.

‘Love, Simon’ is a major milestone for gay film. However, it’s not only one of the best gay films, but also one of the best in the genre. It is truly a breath of fresh air in a stale genre. But most importantly, it breaks barriers. The movie features a diverse cast, featuring people of color and both gay and straight actors in key roles. It also isn’t afraid to embrace itself as a teenage romantic comedy. As the first gay teen movie produced by a major studio, it’s refreshing that it didn’t receive different treatment. The movie still feels like a positive romance film that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life. It isn’t just a gay film – in fact, most of it feels like it’s Simon’s secret rather than his sexuality that guides most of the plot. But ‘Love, Simon’ is possibly one of the most upbeat gay films ever made, and it represents that being gay doesn’t have to mean being different. The film is also progressive in the way that it handles the coming out and represents life in a positive light. It feels like a film made at just the right time in just the right way, bringing diversity, inclusiveness, and change in a time when movements like “Time’s Up” are changing the way that Hollywood functions.

That being said, ‘Love, Simon’ is still a teenage movie. It can be incredibly ham-fisted and is at times blatant and obvious in what it is trying to accomplish. The movie clearly has a message it is trying to convey, and at points it slaps it in your face. Between the pep-talks and speeches about inclusiveness, at points it feels a little too over-the- top. But it hardly detracts from the film and is still welcome even if it could have been more subtle and the message is still appreciated. At its roots, it’s still a sappy love story. But it’s silly, hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic. Even if you’re not in your awkward teen years, it’s still going to evoke those same feelings and bring back some much-needed nostalgia. Most of all, though, it’s just a tender and heartwarming film. It reminded me of how great it is to be in love and all the awkwardness, desire, and joy that it brings.

‘Love, Simon’ is a step forward for gay films and teenage romances alike. It’s an instant classic that is funny, charming, and uplifting.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Johnny Johnny (Senior Contributor) was born and raised in San Diego. He's been a fan of films the majority of his life. He enjoys the feeling it invokes and the power it has to take you to another place.
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