Monday, March 7, 2016

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)


The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a great film.

Seeing movie ads with American critic's Joel Siegel's tagline, "You'll want to stand up and cheer," really irritated me as a younger film fan. But, the late Siegel's line works well here. I can't remember being this wrapped up, and excited, about a movie since the original Spider-Man hit the screen in 2002.

Please appreciate I went to a lot of movies in the 1980s. Teen sex comedies, Private School, Private Lessons, etc. etc. dominated the big screen's depiction of young adults. Fortunately better efforts occasionally appeared, including Pretty In Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful.

Here, director Stephen Chbosky brings his own book to the big screen in a 2012 release.

Charlie is having a tough time with life before he even starts Grade 9. A friend committed suicide. His much-loved aunt died in a collision. He's struggling with his mental health. "I need to turn things around," he declares early on.

High school doesn't start well. Former classmates want nothing to do with him. He's targeted by bullying by older students. Charlie eats alone at lunch.

Then he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his stepsister Sam (Emma Watson).

They're seniors who take Charlie under their wing. Patrick and Sam share Charlie's love of music. It's hard to nail down a date here, but the presence of mix tapes suggests Perks is set in the 1980s.

Things get complicated. Charlie likes Sam. She tends to gravitate to guys who treat her bad. Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) is another member of Patrick's circle of friends. She gets interested in Charlie. He's never had a girlfriend before and is a little confounded about how relationships work.

Perks works for so many reasons. It's funny, especially with Patrick's pronouncements. Perks is a romance. Charlie and Sam connect. She's trying to get into college. There's other guys. He's not quite sure what to do. Charlie struggles with his mental health. Things start to get better once he meets Patrick and Sam. His well-being takes a big hit when tensions rise within the group when he's torn between Mary Elizabeth and Sam.

I give Perks marks too for touching on abuse in dating relationships. That's something I don't remember seeing in a teen film before.

I missed this film when it came out. Maybe it didn't play in my city. But The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the best films I've seen in a long time. Watch this movie.

RATING: 9/10

FUN FACTS: Neat. Internet Movie Database reports Ezra Miller will appear as The Flash in a 2018 feature.

Logan Lerman, I've seen you at least once before. You were in the remake of 3:10 to Yuma in 2007.

Cool. Paul Rudd, who appears as English teacher Mr. Anderson, was in another teen film well worth seeing, 1995's Clueless.

This older film fan couldn't help but think of Mary Stuart Masteron, from Some Kind of Wonderful, when watching Emma Watson.

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