Love, Simon

Rated 3.0

Nick Robinson delivers a breakthrough performance as the title character in Love, Simon, a sweet throwback high school comedy about a gay teen who, thanks to email and social networking, might have to come out in a way that doesn’t jibe with his personal schedule. The film leans toward the formulaic, with a lot of similarities to the works of John Hughes (The Breakfast Club) and some typical characters and a synth-heavy soundtrack. While the Hughes and Clueless comparisons are part of its charms, the film feels a bit generic at times. By the time the movie plays out, some of the formulaic plot mechanics are mostly forgivable because, well, this movie is pretty damned adorable in the end. Based on the Becky Albertalli novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—which, in my opinion, would’ve been a much better movie title—the screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker scores enough original and sincere notes to earn smiles and tears. Simon finds out that somebody at his high school is closeted gay thanks to a social media post. Because he’s in the same predicament, Simon creates a Gmail account, contacts the student, and begins a virtual pen pal relationship. Over the course of the emails, Simon falls in love—or, you know, the high school version of love—with the other anonymous student, constantly scanning his classmates for clues to his identity. Those classmates include best friend Leah (Katherine Langford), who may or may not have a crush on him, new girl in school Abby (Alexandra Shipp), who is the crush of other buddy Nick (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), and Martin (Logan Miller), the resident class clown/annoying guy. All of these characters are enjoyable with the exception of Miller’s, who plays the “annoying guy” role so well that he becomes genuinely, unappealingly annoying. Director Greg Berlanti balances Simon’s school life with a heartwarming, beautifully depicted family life. Jennifer Garner, an underrated actress, is awesome as The Best Mom … Ever, while Josh Duhamel is equally terrific as Simon’s goofy, trying-to-be-cool dad. Talitha Bateman rounds out the family as the little sister who wants to be a cook. Each of the family members has bona fide cry-starting moments in the movie, especially in a late scene between Duhamel and Robinson.