“Love, Simon:” like a straight romantic comedy, but better

March 23, 2018

“I’m just like you.” That’s what Simon Spier, played by Nick Robinson, emphasizes in the opening lines of the March 2018 film, “Love Simon.” Simon personally narrates his family life to the audience before retreating behind the fourth wall.

As Simon tells us, his dad Jack, played by Josh Duhamel, was the star quarterback in high school. Throughout most of the movie, Jack is a carefree—if heteronormative—jokester. Meanwhile, his mom, Emily, played by Jennifer Garner, was valedictorian. After high school, she became a therapist who psychoanalyzes her own children.

Simon also has a younger sister, Nora, played by now sixteen-year-old Talitha Bateman. Simon claims to hate her, but as he tells viewers, he likes her—even if he does not want to tell her that.

His life seems totally average and uncomplicated, except for the fact that Simon is keeping a secret: he’s gay. The premise of the film revolves around this private detail, which no one else is supposed to know.

Throughout the movie, Simon has email correspondence with a gay mystery classmate. He finds him on a Yik-Yak meets Gossip Girl blog, where people from his town reveal secrets anonymously. He eventually falls in love with his email partner, while simultaneously trying to figure out who the guy really is. This obsession continues to the point where Simon starts imagining a few different guys as his crush despite having only a few clues.

Simon discovers that figuring out who his pen pal is will not be easy, since neither of them are openly gay or in a hurry to reveal their sexuality. After all, aside from worries about facing issues like parental pressure and safety, the only openly gay person at Simon’s school, a guy named Ethan, is teased mercilessly by bullies. Although Ethan is always ready to combat his tormentors with hilarious and sassy one-liners, no one else stands up for him or makes the immature harassers regret their behavior enough to stop it.

The circumstances of Simon’s search and everyday life are complicated early on, when someone unexpected discovers Simon’s secret and tries to use it against him in an awful and offensive twist. Simon is understandably hesitant to reveal his secret to his three best friends, but the person blackmailing him makes it difficult for him to hide it.

Overall, the film inspires a lot of different emotions. There are heartwarming scenes as well as heartbreaking scenes. There are silly characters and there are obnoxious characters. The film has sad moments, but it also has impressive zingers from unexpected characters like the teachers at Simon’s high school, and sweet, heartfelt love confessions.

One noticeable part of the movie was that the various characters are not hugely developed, aside from Simon. In fact, the film is so Simon-centric that everyone else seems insignificant. Still, some supporting characters make you laugh and some make you smile. And if you’re like me, some make you want to punch them in the face, multiple times.

“Love, Simon” is truly the epitome of romantic comedies. It has a sweet and delicate love story, but its comedy is also underrated. Complete with sarcasm, stupidity and silly halloween costumes, the film was hilarious at its best moments and cheesy at its worst.

In a lot of ways “Love, Simon” is unrealistic, but that is what makes it special. It gets things right where it really needs to, and tugs at viewer’s heartstrings in all of the good ways.

Director Greg Berlanti, of the CW’s “Arrowverse” fame as well as an openly gay man, clearly worked hard on executing the film in a both idealistic and realistic way. “Love, Simon” might not exemplify all coming out stories and it is not perfect, but it is a big step towards better representation.

While “Love, Simon” is a huge win for LGBTQ+ people as the first mainstream film to be lead by a gay character, it also has the potential to appeal to broader audiences, including some people who have not been as accepting as they need to be. Hopefully this film becomes one of many of its kind. It may be the first, but it should not be the last.

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