‘Homo Sapiens Agenda’ infiltrates theaters
If you want a movie that makes you feel “all the feels,” go see “Love, Simon.”
Based on the book “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli, “Love, Simon” introduces the audience to Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), a high school senior with a great family and loyal friends. The only conflict in his life is that he is reluctant to come out of the closet — he has not found the right time, and he thinks it is unfair that members of the LGBTQ community have to come out at all simply because heterosexuality is seen as the default.
The beginning of the movie shows viewers how being in the closet can affect one’s life. When other men make sexually suggestive comments about women to Simon, the audience sees Simon’s discomfort and reluctance to respond. For LGBTQ+ viewers, scenes like this are all too familiar. For straight viewers, we wonder how many times we have made someone uncomfortable by making assumptions about their sexual preference.
Simon finds a post on his school’s Tumblr page from an anonymous student who goes by the name Blue. Like Simon, Blue is gay and not ready to come out. The two begin emailing each other anonymously, and eventually develop romantic feelings for each other. Unfortunately, the emails fall into the wrong hands and Simon is blackmailed into helping someone mysterious date one of his friends.
This film was exceptionally well-cast. Prior to this movie, I only knew Nick Robinson in his roles as a one-dimensional teenage boy, such as Ryder in “Melissa and Joey” and Zach in “Jurassic World.” These characters are generic and devoid of personality; however, after seeing Robinson in “Love, Simon,” I see him as a bona fide actor. His portrayal of Simon was phenomenal. Robinson managed to make Simon charismatic, sociable and funny, but not too perfect. He has flaws and he does stupid things, like setting up his friend with the blackmailer, but Robinson portrays Simon in a very sympathetic way.
Other standout performances included Natasha Rothwell as the cynical but hilarious drama teacher, Tony Hale as the quirky vice principal and Josh Duhamel as Simon’s father. Each of these characters provided comic relief, but Josh Duhamel gave the strongest and most complex performance. In the beginning of the film, Simon’s dad casually makes homophobic jokes, and when he finds out about Simon’s sexuality, he seems shocked and almost disappointed. However, toward the end of the film, he reminds Simon that he will love him no matter what and even offers to join the dating app Grindr with him.
There are many red herrings in this film. If you like mysteries and does not mind having the rug pulled out from under you, you’ll enjoy those red herrings. If you want the film to focus more on character development and the trials of being a closeted teenager, they will annoy you after a while. I am a part of the latter group because, in the end, all the red herrings did were make me focus on details and individuals who was not important.
I would have loved to see more interactions between Simon and his friend group. The movie does a good job developing Simon’s friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) ,while his other friends, Leah (Katherine Langford) and Nick (Jorge Lendeborg), do not seem as well-rounded. Leah’s character, for example, may be disappointing to fans of the books, since Leah is a breakout character in print but dull in the film.
The dialogue in this movie is well done. It does not undermine the intelligence of its audience, but because the dialogue marketed to teens is quick-witted and unpretentious.
Overall, “Love, Simon” is a teen comedy that will resonate with many. Some will be able to relate to Simon’s struggle and others will try to be more open minded when they discuss sexuality. With its well-crafted script and powerful performances, everyone will love “Love, Simon.”