I grew up in the 80’s when John Hughes was the king of the teen angst/comedy. From “16 Candles” to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” to “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” Hughes made movie after movie that defined my generation. None of those rivaled his masterpiece, “The Breakfast Club.” Set in a school library, it set to tear down the walls of modern social mores of high school and show that, despite what society tells us our role is, only we can truly make our future. Stephen Chobsky’s novel, “The Perks Of being A Wallflower,” is pretty much on par with that classic, with a more modern twist and a little darker in nature.
Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a young man with some issues who is about to begin his freshman year in high school. He feels small and forgotten by almost everyone. No one will talk to him, including his sister and his parents, and he finds himself lost in the caverns of the school simply trying to avoid trouble. In an odd twist of events, he ends up becoming friends with a flamboyant & loud senior named Patrick. Patrick (Ezra Miller) is a gay extrovert who plays off the fact that people are uncomfortable with his sexuality and finds humor in it. Patrick is a part of a circle of friends known as “the Wallflowers.” In this group are his stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman) and Alice (Erin Whilhelmi). Together they become fast friends and, as the year goes on, they share many moments of love, laughter and hardship.
Much like all my other reviews, I don’t want to give anything away if you haven’t read the book. I admittedly have NOT read the book and so here is what I can tell you…I LOVED this movie! Much like “The Breakfast Club,” “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Soundtrack” and “The Dead Poets Society,” this movie is jam packed with so many wonderful scenes and it is obvious to me that writer/director Stephen Chobsky (who also wrote the book) had a need to bring this film to life. All of the characters in this film are painted in bright, vivid colors and Chobsky does a great making sure that none of them are caricatures. Each has his or her own inner demons and they all work collaboratively to make each one better. In a sense, it’s a lot like high school…except maybe a little darker than when I was in school.
For the record, I think it’s unfortunate that Logan Lerman was slighted for an Oscar opportunity. I think he is dead on as the perfect actor to play Charlie. With his slight demeanor and his hushed talking style, Lerman IS Charlie and watching him in this role, I feel he should have been a consideration. Ezra Miller could also have easily been given a Best Supporting Actor nod. Patrick is an interesting character and Miller finds the right touch of humor and empathy to play the role of a gay teen in the early 90’s. As for the character of Sam, Emma Watson was a good choice for the role. A part of me wants to imagine that her character may not have been so pretty in the book (I don’t know why but in MY high school, a girl as attractive as Watson would have definitely been one of the more popular girls), but Watson manages to push those thoughts away and generally steals most of the scenes she is in.
One other thing…the soundtrack. I love movies that have music that coincide with the “feel” of a characters. In the 80’s, this was a huge part of what John Hughes’ films were. The soundtrack gave the movie life. And in this film, Chobsky is dead on, using music by The Smiths, The Samples and he has created an iconic scene (a la “Say Anything” with the boom box over John Cusack’s head playing “In Your Eyes”) using David Bowie’s “Heroes” that will forever be one of my favorite scenes of any movie.
Stephen Chobsky has created a new John Hughes film for this generation of teenagers. Not only is this movie one of the Best of 2012, I have to imagine it will be loved by many for decades to come. Why it wasn’t nominated by the Academy for Best Picture is beyond me.
Overall Rating: A+