'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' Movie Review

Generally I'm not an advocate of reading a book before seeing the movie - I find that if I enjoy the book, the movie rarely lives up to what I imagined in my head. There is, however, something to be said about being PREPARED for what you are going to see, and in this case, about halfway through this little number, I was wishing I had been given a little bit more information. Don't let the trailers fool you - this is a little darker than advertised.

THE GOOD: Charlie (Logan Lerman) is an incredibly bright but troubled high school Freshman, who doesn't seem to fit in anywhere. He struggles to get through each school day, and impressively continues to attend events like football games and dances all by himself, when most kids his age would probably sit it out at home, not wanting to deal with the inevitable judgement from peers that you are, in fact, a giant loser. It's when forcing himself to attend these functions that he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his step-sister Sam (Emma Watson), who are both equally likeable and dysfunctional in their own ways, and much to Charlie's surprise and excitement, he is welcomed with open arms into their circle of misfit friends. Along the way, Charlie learns that he is not the only one with problems as he watches Patrick who is without question out-of-the-closet gay struggle with an imperfect relationship; and Sam, who is trying desperately to reform her reputation. As Patrick and Sam learn more about Charlie, they help him feel the sense of belonging he's been waiting for.

There's no real reference point of what year this movie is set in, but the lack of cell phones, Internet usage, and exchanging of "mixed cassette tapes", along with music by The Smiths and New Order, conjures up the time being somewhere in the early 90′s, not terribly far from my own high school years. It was nostalgic for me to watch teenagers spend real time together with other 3 dimensional people, unlike the teenagers that currently reside in my house who spend more time Face-booking and texting their friends than actually seeing them. I could also certainly relate with the feeling of being the awkward loner. Believe it - I was NOT one of the popular kids in my high school and spent many a moment counting how many days till this "best times of my life" period would be over. I might actually be one of the few people in the world who wouldn't go back to my high school years even if there were large sums of money involved.

THE BAD: As previously noted, I went to this movie because, based on the previews, it reminded me of a modern day "Breakfast Club" - a classic from my youth that gave a somewhat accurate and hilarious account of high school misfits who found common ground. I went into the theater thinking this would be very similar, and to some degree it was. But I have to admit I was not prepared for the darker side of things that would be revealed as the cause of Charlie's dysfunction, and that's why I think perhaps reading the book might have been advisable in this case. The movie is much more edgy than I expected, and, although I don't consider myself one of those "out of touch" adults, it was not particularly comforting to me to see kids who were considered by their peers as outsiders, getting together and using drugs as they celebrated their "uniqueness". I felt very touched by the fact that Charlie was being welcomed into a group that didn't care if he was "different", but it would have sat with me a little better to see these kids relying more on EACH OTHER to get through their struggles, and less on the drug and alcohol scene. Yup, I'm one of those people. I really believe teenagers are capable of getting through their emotional upheavals without getting stoned.

THE UGLY: I realize I may be one of only a handful of people who has NEVER seen 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' but I make no apologies when I say "I don't ever plan to". In addition to how weird I found this part of the movie (Charlie and his friends attend and/or participate in a showing of TRHPS), it was another moment where I found myself realizing that my view of things are definitely shaped by the fact that I am a mom, and I thought it was basically horrifying to see teenagers dressed in drag and simulating sex onstage. If that makes me "out of touch", I will wear it like a badge.

To be clear, I'm certainly not saying this movie was BAD. The acting by all the cast -particularly Lerman and Miller - was fantastic, and the overall story was sweet and heartbreaking. I take some issues with the darker aspects of the film because I AM a mother and as unrealistic as it may seem, I would love to believe that kids should just be kids and not have to deal with grown up issues and activities until absolutely necessary.

The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.

'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' has a running time of 1 hr 43 min, and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic material,drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, fighting, and language (F word used once)

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