Film Review: Love, Simon (2018)
Remember how iconic Hilary Duff’s speech at Chad Michael Murray in the locker room was in A Cinderella Story? Or how hot Robert Schwartzman was as Michael in The Princess Diaries as the guy who “fixes car, plays guitar, and can sing”? If you loved these early 2000s, sorta rom-com, sorta chick-flick, but definitely only for kids 16 and under movies, then Love, Simon is 100% for YOU. And by you, I mean the you that is still just about to hit puberty and is still watching the Disney Channel.
And as someone who still proudly and actively quotes The Princess Diaries and the like, you know I gobbled up Love, Simon the minute they brought in the Pen Pals trope, made ever so famous by the aforementioned A Cinderella Story. This film is so perfectly trope-y, in the way that many teen movies, YA novels, and fanfiction are, and if you’re privy to that, it’s hard not to swoon over at The Big Damn Kiss at the end.
Love, Simon is essentially about Simon, a gay White Male teen, played by Nick Robinson, who goes through different obstacles to keep his sexuality a secret when this one snot-nosed booger of a kid, played by Logan Miller, tries to blackmail him. At the same time, Simon has been exchanging sweet emails with a mysterious pen pal who goes by the name of “Blue” and is trying to figure out who he is. What culminates is a generally wholesome and definitely idealistic and perhaps past-its-time genre film backed by the machine that is one of the Big Six major American film distributors, 20th Century Fox.
When I walked into the theater, I already had some general skepticisms - Love, Simon is a mainstream movie, is backed by a distributor that would entail a lot of cooks in the kitchen, and (like with many others) stars a straight lead actor to play its gay protagonist. The movie, when done and over with, is still all those things, but its impact is particularly interesting to see. This high school movie is skewed for a younger audience obviously, Generation Z if you will, but I don’t think it’s something that actual Gen Z kids and even Millennials will particularly identify with, because this whole story feels slightly dated. Aside from the struggles that come from being gay and in the closet, Simon has an otherwise pretty perfect life. He’s attractive, popular, has equally attractive and popular friends, lives in a fucking mansion, has a nice car, has mega supportive parents and a precocious younger sister. His room is literally something you would see at an IKEA display or like a Crate & Barrel catalogue for teen rooms - complete with a chalkboard wall. All these things don’t go unnoticed for me because, despite his sexuality, this guy is so, so privileged. His actually perfect life would be disrupted if he were to come out, and after he actually does come out, his life largely remains the absolute same, except that he’s got a boyfriend now.
His privilege in all of this is just so jarring when comparing him to one of his classmates, Ethan, played by Clark Moore, who is openly gay (supposedly the only openly gay student in their 2018 Atlanta high school), more feminine, and black. We can just immediately see how different and more painful Ethan’s life is from Simon’s because of all these things. I wish we could’ve seen a movie about Ethan. Fun fact: Clark Moore was my friend’s old boss at Snapchat.
As unrealistic/idealistic as Love, Simon is, which is perfectly okay, I’m at least glad this movie is here and is enjoyable. Circling back to my one true love, early 2000s teen movies, none of those movies are particularly relatable and all of those are absolute epitomes of idealistic stories, and I think that’s certainly a category that Love, Simon can stay in and should stay in.