Love Simon is your stereotypical, cookie-cutter romantic comedy with one glaring exception: it’s about two boys. This shouldn’t be something groundbreaking in 2018, but it is, and because of that, I feel that this movie will have to live up to standards that shouldn’t be placed on it. So here is what you should expect from Love Simon: a feel-good, corny love story that will give you unrealistic expectations about romance.
And why shouldn’t it? Love Simon isn’t pretending to be something it’s not. You get exactly what it says on the tin. It’s not trying to be groundbreaking – in fact, it follows some pretty tried and true romantic comedy tropes – but it is groundbreaking by the very nature of its existence. LGBT+ movies, like movies about other minorities, often have to live up to ridiculous standards, as though because it’s about LGBT+ people, it needs to be better than a “regular” movie. Not every movie with LGBTQIA+ characters needs to be some depressing, angst-filled sob-fest Oscar bait film. Sometimes, they’re allowed to be silly, cheesy, predictable rom-coms.
Love Simon is the story of Simon Spier, who has a pretty good life, except for the fact that he’s hiding the fact that he’s gay from everyone he cares about. An anonymous post on his school’s PostSecret-like-webpage reveals that there is at least one other closeted gay kid. Simon emails the person who posted, and as the two begin to correspond, Simon starts to come to terms with his identity.
Nick Robinson is absolutely stellar as Simon, giving off a thoroughly relatable amount of awkward charm. The miscellaneous cast of characters who make up his friends and classmates are all believable as high school students, despite the fact that most of them have to be in their early 20s. Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner are suitably endearing as Simon’s parents, although it’s weird for me to see them as parents of a teenager. The writing is sharp, the feel is on point, and the music serves to highlight adolescence in a way that movie soundtracks always seem to do so well.
I actually got some pretty heavy Never Been Kissed vibes from this movie. I’m pretty happy about that. Like a generation of young women imagined themselves in Josie Geller’s shoes, waiting on the pitcher’s mound for the perfect kiss, so now a generation of young gay boys can picture themselves as Simon, waiting on the Ferris wheel for his crush to show up. And they deserve that.
Is Love Simon realistic? No. But it’s not supposed to be. Are people fans of Love Actually because of its realism? No, because it’s a ridiculous film full of heterosexual nonsense, and we love it because it’s ridiculous. So too is Love Simon ridiculous, full of grand romantic gestures and even a dream sequence dance number. It should be viewed through the same lens as any other romantic comedy, because that’s all it is. That the romance is homosexual rather than heterosexual should be of no consequence. Watching Simon stumble through flirting should be relatable to anyone – guy or girl, gay or straight – the same way watching Colin Firth make a fool out of himself was.
If you go to Love Simon expecting a thought-provoking, introspective, insightful film about what it’s like to be a gay teenager, you’re probably going to be disappointed. But if you want to see a fun, entertaining, cheesy rom-com that just happens to be about two boys, then you’ll likely have a great time.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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