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Love, Simon (2018)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/12/2018
All Ratings out of
Review by Sydny Long, Posted on 6/18/2018
High school is a notoriously confusing time in an adolescent’s life. The pressure of performing well academically is nominal compared to the rigors of fitting in and unlocking the merits associated with being popular. Throw in a hormone cocktail and you have four years of confusion, frustration, and—most importantly to those in the film industry—drama. Hollywood has been milking the trials and tribulations of high school students for decades, attempting to appeal to the famously finicky teenaged demographic with stories lifted from their own lives. That objective is rarely met given most movies about high school portray it as unnecessarily ruthless (not to mention the public schools in most films look like Ivy League universities), but occasionally a movie will manage to find the exciting realism inside the classroom and tell a compelling story without resorting to over-the-top theatrics. Love, Simon breaks from the pack by ditching the conventional high school love story formula and instead incorporating the confusing, uncomfortable experiences of adolescence and sexuality into a heartwarming teen flick.
Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a high school senior whose life seems perfect. He has two loving parents (Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner), a tight-knit friend group consisting of jock Nick Eisner (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), artsy Leah (Katherine Langford), and new student Abby (Alexandra Shipp), and his very own car. What makes his life less than perfect is the fact that he’s gay and feels compelled to keep it a secret until he gets to college. This plan is derailed when a student at his school anonymously comes out on the schoolwide Tumblr page under the nickname “Blue”, prompting Simon to email him under a pseudonym. They begin exchanging messages and becoming closer, only for the messages to be discovered by Martin (Logan Miller), one of Simon’s annoying classmates. Martin threatens to share the emails with the rest of the school unless Simon helps him go out with Abby, which Simon reluctantly agrees to in order to prevent Blue’s identity from being revealed. As Simon finds himself getting more and more entangled in Martin’s blackmailing scheme, he struggles to figure out Blue’s real identity and has to decide whether or not he is ready for the world to see him as he truly is.
While there have certainly been films made centered around the trials of gay, bisexual, and trans individuals, these movies are often too focused on the depressing aspects of belonging to the LGBT community to the point where they often become misery porn for straight audiences to consume. Love, Simon is one of a very few movies where gayness isn’t framed tragically, and the love story treated with the same lightness and frankness as a heterosexual romance. Simon may face homophobia and will continue to due to the society we still live in, but he isn’t ashamed of his gayness. His coming out isn’t some grand gesture made to appeal to the straight audiences (the film actually has a comical scene where Simon’s straight friends come out to their parents to point out the absurdity of having to “come out” in the first place). He’s just a normal high school senior dealing with the same insecurities and confusion.
As far as filmmaking goes, Love, Simon is a perfectly serviceable teen flick. The characters are extremely likeable—even Martin is written more pathetic than villainous—and the writing is strong (no surprise given the book it was based off of received acclaim for its honesty and wit). It’s surprisingly light on humor, with most of the jokes coming from Tony Hale as the school’s lovingly nosy assistant principal, but never as unpleasantly bitter or raunchy as most high school comedies. The acting is especially strong: Nick Robinson gives an excellent performance and Garner and Duhamel are both perfect in their roles. One of the movie’s especially emotional scenes finds Robinson and Garner acting beautifully together, imbuing the moment with heartbreaking sincerity. Their commitment to the material not only brings needed depth to what could have been a more shallow film, but will doubtlessly touch hundreds of young LGBT teens who desperately need to hear the reassuring words that Garner has to say.
High school may be a confusing time and high school movies may never be realistic (Simon and all of his friends live in giant, glass-front houses and attend a public high school that looks more like a private academy off the Californian coast), but Love, Simon is a refreshingly sweet, diverse exploration of the confusion of adolescence and how support from one’s family, friends, and community can bring two people together. The movie ditches the realism of the world we live in (I know my senior class certainly wouldn’t have cheered on a fellow gay student in their pursuit of their anonymous pen pal) just like every other teen flick out there. Just as Simon writes “I deserve a great love story” in the film, so does every LGBT teen in the audience deserve to see themselves getting a triumphant ferris wheel kiss on the big screen.
Love, Simon offers a high school fair more elaborate than most state fairs on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 32 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no distracting grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, as the image features some bold tones, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good and the depth works quite well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music delivers some nice subwoofer effects. During the finale and with some of the scenes in-school, we get some noticeable surround and stereo effects, most of which are highlight sounds coming from off-screen.
The Love, Simon Blu-ray Disc contains several extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director Greg Berlanti, Producer Isaac Kalusner, and Screenwriter Isaac Aptaker. The Disc contains two DELETED SCENES which run about 8 minutes. The one which shows Simon trying a gay bar should have been left in the movie. "The Adaptation" (11 minutes) gives a somewhat broad overview of how the book became a movie. We hear from the creative team and the cast, as well as Author Becky Albertalli. There is a discussion of not only adapting the book, but also making a movie which had the potential to be groundbreaking. "The Squad" (10 minutes) offers interviews with the primary cast and a look at the characters. "#Firstlovestorycontest Winner" (2 minutes) offer the short film which won a contest related to the movie. "Dear Georgia" (5 minutes) and "Dear Atlanta" (2 minutes) both focus on the film's shooting locations and how they tied into the book. The extras are rounded out by a GALLERY and THEATRICAL TRAILERS.
Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long