I’m one of those folks that firmly believes in reading a book before I see a movie. While the book takes you on one adventure and gives you a sense of what to expect from a film, it also allows you to explore the possibilities of where the filmmakers can take a project on the big screen. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda before attending a screening of Love, Simon, however, in this instance, that may have been a good thing. While most studios have been eagerly attempting to recreate the box office magic of the Twilight and Hunger Games films, they’ve essentially ignored the quality vs quantity approach and instead delivered fast-tracked films that offer little to no substance – or share very little in common with the books they’re based on. With Love, Simon, though, this doesn’t appear to be an issue. This is easily one of the strongest film adaption of a YA title I’ve seen in recent years, and one that I would have no problem re-watching because it’s so damn enjoyable.
I went into Love, Simon having a general idea of what to expect – a story about a gay teen protagonist. But the film is so much more than that. Yes, Simon is gay and that is addressed from the get-go, but the story goes beyond the character’s sexuality. It’s a story that all teens can relate to because it’s all about self-identity and coming to terms with the person you are. This goes for not just Simon, but essentially all of the teen cast in the film. The amount of character development in this film is insane. While it's fantastic to see Simon grow from this uneasy character to someone who is fully comfortable in his skin, it's even more impressive seeing how they opt to tackle the antagonist of the film. You'll hate him after everything he does, yet, you'll find yourself feeling sorry for him in the end because writers Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker take the time to add layers to his character.
What makes super producer Greg Berlanti's directorial debut most impressive, though, is how wonderfully it handles Simon's story. You'll find yourself grinning as he tries to flirt, laughing as he daydreams about a future in college, and crying as everything seemingly falls apart for him in an instant. It's an emotional rollercoaster, yes, but one that's worth riding because it delivers in the end.
And while the film is more than Simon's sexuality, the character's sexuality is a damn important part of this story. At a time when many -- including myself -- are eager to see more representation in all forms of media, Love, Simon delivers. It's a wonderfully crafted teenage romance that puts a gay duo front and center. That shouldn't be a rarity in 2018, but it is, and it's something worth celebrating. I can only hope the film performs well at the box office because it's important that Hollywood take more chances on adapting material like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda going forward.
To sum it up? Expect to smile, to cry, and to leave the theater wanting to dive back into Simon's world.
Possible spoiler? There's a small musical number in the film that will leave you grinning from ear to ear.
In theaters March 16.