While Love, Simon is deserving of admiration because of its depiction of queer representation on a mainstream level, it should still be lauded for being a well-acted crowd pleaser that is bound to have people laughing, crying, and applauding by the time the credits roll. Despite there being some familiar beats in the storyline, they're still easy to overlook because Love, Simon is a winning film-going experience that tugs the heartstrings with absolute ease.
Based on the novel Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon follows the story of a high schooler named Simon Spier (Nick Robinson). Simon is a kid who seems like every other high-school kid. He’s got loving parents, a nice car, and a group of friends he regularly hangs out with. However, what nobody else knows about him is that he’s gay and he’s too petrified to tell anyone. But he starts to form a connection with an anonymous crush named “Blue” who he exchanges emails with. As he tries to figure out Blue’s identity, he must also find himself while trying to keep his secret safe once he gets blackmailed by a classmate.
The story of a teen figuring out his sexuality may provide familiarity but director Greg Berlanti and screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger do attempt to create something unique out of it by subverting cliches within the “teen movie” genre while toying with conventions from other genres as well. For instance, antagonistic bullies in high-school movies are typically a football jock or the popular “Queen Bee.” But here, Simon is being bullied and blackmailed by a neglected theater geek. Also, when Simon tries to figure out Blue’s identity, he visualizes the various suspects sending him emails which turns the search for his identity into a fun mystery. We even get a fantasy musical sequence of Simon in college with everyone dancing along to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston while waving rainbow flags.
Part of the film’s charm and depth rests on the shoulders of its leading man. After a few solid supporting turns in Jurassic World and Everything, Everything, Nick Robinson is given a star vehicle to show off what he’s really made of and knocks it out of the park. He nails the film’s comical beats with each deadpan line reading he gives while brilliantly capturing the anxiety of being closeted with each panicked facial gesture.
As amazing as he is, though, the rest of the ensemble gets to shine as well. The actors who play his friends: Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., do amazingly as well as Tony Hale as the overbearing vice principal of Simon’s school. Also, Jennifer Garner, who plays Simon’s loving mother, gets to have a climactic monologue that is bound to tug the heartstrings and is one I’ll be thinking about for quite some time. It may be a tad too early to talk about next year’s awards season but Love, Simon would be a worthy candidate to compete for the Screen Actors Guild award for Best Ensemble In A Motion Picture because literally every actor brings their A-game from its leading actor to Natasha Rothwell who steals every scene she has in her small supporting role as Ms. Albright, Simon’s drama teacher.
Much like Jennifer Garner’s monologue, the rest of the film feels like an ode to the marginalized LGBTQ+ community that reminds audiences that teens who are struggling with their sexuality and their identity are deserving of love and acceptance. Even if the ending gets a tad too sentimental, the film as a whole is still a triumphant and crowd pleasing experience.