Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This is a good example of a film that completely passed me by on its first run out. I never read the book, never even heard of it, and it's not really the genre that I am interested in. The name suggests romantic comedy, and it's catchy, but again, it completely passed me by until I saw it in Showtime's onDemand list.

As I read through the available options, I noticed Emma Watson (Harry Potter) was in it and Mae Whitman (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World), and they're both cuties so I figured I'd check it out. And boy was I glad I did! I pretty much mostly review movies that rock here on Titanium Toast, and no doubt this one will end up in my personal collection.

The film follows the life of Charlie (Logan Lerman) as a troubled teen entering his freshman year of high school. He's an extremely bright overachiever. He's also a loner. His only friend committed suicide the year before. He tries to make connections through his older siblings, one who is a senior and one who just graduated the year before, but nothing ever pans out. In fact the one still in high school, doesn't want to be seen with him at school. Then, by a stroke of good luck, he sort of falls into an unlikely group of friends, all seniors, where he is allowed to be himself and really learn about himself and his place in life.

Sounds like a romantic comedy right? Well, sometimes it feels that way, but there are other themes like mental illness and abuse thrown in which fortify the story and make you really feel for the characters. I can't wait to read the book to see how the story plays out on the page.

This story weighed particularly heavily on my heart because of the connection I felt to Charlie. I was Charlie. It takes place sometime in the late 80s/early 90s, right about the time I was a high school freshman. 

When I was growing up in California, I didn't have a lot of friends, and the ones I had decided unanimously to turn their backs on me after a falling out. So when I went to high school, I went alone. I remember my first day. It was like I was the new kid in town, with no friends, except everybody knew me. Just like Charlie. I was a sort of a nerd, and they all treated me like a leper, and I was a favorite target to the bullies. But my GPA at the end of the year was 3.8. Then came my miracle:  we moved.

Aloha High School was a haven for me. Like Charlie, I quickly fell into my groove. I finally found a place where I could be myself; and explore who that person was. Like Charlie, I was a little inexperienced in the realm of dating and relationships, but eventually I learned not to be afraid, to have confidence, and to go after what I wanted.

I also felt another connection, one that the film did not explore. That part of the story about Charlie being a freshman, but all his friends were seniors, and going off to college the next year. 

When I was at Aloha, I made a lot of friends. And I didn't care what class they were in, if they were if they had a good heart, and had something in common with me, I liked them and we hung out. My problem was, that by the time I was a senior, two-thirds of my friends were NOT in my class, and would still be in high school after I graduated. This is what was so difficult for me:  moving on, not getting to be around my friends everyday.

So I kind of found that to be a loose string in Charlie's story.

The romance between Charlie and Sam was priceless, albeit a little unbelievable. Senior girls wouldn't even talk to freshmen boys when I was in high school. And that's kind of a big developmental gap. But sweet nonetheless.

And then there's the dark side.....

The themes of abuse and mental illness really stood to strengthen and validate the story. I can remember having bouts of depression in high school, so I know the feeling. And I remember being mistreated by bullies as well. Not something I'd want to relive.

Overall, I loved this film, and I would recommend it highly. This is one that I could watch over and over. IMDb gives it 8.1 stars. I'll give it a 9.