Get out your typewriters and fishnet stockings, we're reviewing The Perks of Being a Wallflower!
Charlie (Logan Lerman) starts high school as a freshman after overcoming some trauma, and tries his best to make friends while not standing out or getting eaten by his classmates. He soon finds some friends in Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson). Can they drag him out of his shell?
This is one of those awkward high-school-is-hell movies. But then again, how many high-school-is-great-and-no-one-has-any-problems-ever movies are there? Anyway, there are awkward, dumb teen moments and romantic teen relationship drama, and I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to get out now. Awkward moments are the bane of my existence, and there are some parts that are nearly unwatchable for me. But wait! There's more! There's a really fucked-up-yet-touching story underneath about not worrying about fitting in and being okay with mental health that I think is worth seeing. I haven't read the book, so I can't say how accurately anything is portrayed. Also, Emma Watson in Rocky Horror attire. There's that.
Is there anyone who didn't think High School was hell? Y'know, other than the people who made it that way? I ask, because it's weird that we all go through this horrible experience and then apparently grow up and forget all that and expect our kids to go out and have fun in this same exact hellhole we once longed to escape. I mean, is that really what happens? Do we expect kids to not be total assholes because we have commercials on bullying on the Disney channel? I don't know, it's just weird to still see normal parents of kids acting like they expect their kids NOT to hate high school.
If this movie reminds me of anything it's that KIDS ARE JERKS. Ugh, why are you like that, children? Stop it. It can be annoying after a while, but it's more annoying to think kids still go through this. And if you are one of those kids that are still going through this, well first I'm sorry, and second this might be a great movie for you. It's not a veritable encyclopedia of how to act in high school, as Charlie definitely messes up a lot, but it's one of those movies where you realize you're not alone and there are people going through the same shit you're going through. And that's an important lesson that a lot of kids/teens/adults/humans seem to miss. We're all going through this.
The main cast are great in their respective roles, and they have a lot of fun. I wish I had known these people in high school! Lerman narrates through the entire movie and it's not bad. He has this tragic, awkward tone that resonates “something, something emotions”. Also there's a pretty good cast playing the adults, including Paul Rudd as a teacher! Hi Paul Rudd! That's weird. Dylan McDermott is… just there as the father, which I guess is the point. Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are really fun in their roles and really sell their characters.
The movie has a pretty great soundtrack, although there's one point where they hear a song on the radio and don't know what it is and it is CLEARLY a David Bowie song. I'm guessing this was part of the book and it wasn't given what song they were listening to, but look children, if you don't know Bowie, I seriously doubt your claims of "having great tastes in music". It just seems like they could have gotten an actual fairly unknown band, but wanted that specific Bowie song because it felt right. But that's a minor annoyance.
I don't know if Emma Watson's character is a good female character or not. I think she does well in the part, I just don't know if it's a good character, and I don’t know if I have the authority to say one way or the other. I'm torn. On the one hand, she seems like a pretty liberated, fun lady, but on the other hand, she has messed-up origins that lead her to "always dating the wrong guy" Gee if only the right guy were to magically walk in who was nice to her and great and the hero of our story and whoops.
But then again, there's a central theme of “why can't we ‘fix’ people, why can't we change people.” Why can't we save people. People do bad habits, we see our friends doing them, we try to help, but they keep doing them. That's depressing, but it's a fact of life. There's also some pretty good homosexual commentary, especially coming from high school. People, stop being jerks already.
The going-through-high-school stuff is one thing, but I found the dealing-with-mental-health stuff way more interesting, and I wish there was more time associated with that. He spends the movie working through some trauma and he only really has a breakthrough near the end, and I really wish the whole movie dealt with that, because I know people who have those feelings and problems, dealing with that kind of anger and blinding rage. I think there's a huge difference between "getting through high school as a kid" and "getting through high school with serious mental problems that need to be addressed but also shouldn't be looked at as though he were some strange monster."
It's a pretty awkward and sometimes really hard to watch. But if you're in the mood to watch another movie showing how crap high school was and still is, and you want some EMOTIONS, then I'd recommend giving it a watch. It's still a lot of fun at times, but it can be pretty heart-wrenching, too.
THE GOOD: High School sucks, EMOTIONS, good actors, Emma Watson, good cast, good music, good gay characters.
THE BAD: High School sucks, EMOTIONS, dealing with serious trauma, kids are jerks.
THE VERDICT: $$$$ See it! It's a pretty great emotional film and it can be pretty fun and entertaining at that. It's a good experience, though I'm not sure how
MOVIES LIKE IT: Assassination of a High School President, Brick, The Breakfast Club, Glee, Dead Poet's Society,
ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: Charlie goes to a party and does drugs. This is pretty entertaining, and also touching when he hangs out with his friends. But it’s also kind of sad when he realizes these are his only friends and everyone else sucks.