Eighth Grade

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Eighth Grade — and elementary-to-high school in general – is a different experience for everyone. Some reflect on it as a fun time with friends and a little learning in between. Some cringe at the memories and feel it’s all best left behind. Some are seeking therapy 20 years later due to the horrifying circumstances that befell them in those dark, dark ages because tweens are evil monsters sent to destroy your self-worth and stomp out any remaining embers of hopes and dreams.

Which one am I, you ask? I DON’T WANNA TALK ABOUT IT.

I thank the gods for letting me adolesce when I did; the internet didn’t really happen until I was in High School, and even then, it was AOL Instant Messenger and Napster. We didn’t have the tools to hurt one another via Instagram shade or sending nasty DMs on Snapchat that would disappear, absolving the sender of any misdoings.

Don’t get me wrong, kids were still horrible; we just didn’t have all of the avenues to express it the way the youths do today.

Eighth Grade follows Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) through her conclusion of Middle School. Posting to her YouTube channel frequently, Kayla spends her time and energy putting #GoodVibesOnly into the world. The videos she posts are centered around inspiring confidence and well-being in her audience.

Under the watchful eye of dad, Mark (Josh Hamilton), Kayla must navigate the choppy waters of ascending from the peak of Middle School to the rocky bottom of the valley in High School. When she’s invited to a pool party by the mother of a girl at school who Kayla is fairly certain doesn’t even like her, She does something I never would have had the guts to do; not only does she show up, she GOES IN THE POOL.

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This movie allows one to reminisce back to the entrance of teen-dom, but puts a modern spin on it. I’ve no clue what it’s like for 8th graders these days. In my mind, it’s still just as it was when I wandered the halls of my middle school. If the films speaks with accuracy — and I presume it does — then it’s kinda like it was for me, but everyone has a laptop and instead of tornado drills, they have school shooter practice.

For the most part, we see Kayla getting involved in things that we wish she wouldn’t. But to say that I didn’t do the same thing when I was her age would be patently false.

Kayla Day loves her technology. There’s something to be said for the gadgets we have and what they can do, and people tend to be pretty divided on the subject. The younger crowd goes wild for a good Instagram story or new Snapchat filter, while the more seasoned kids are iffy at best on our everything thought hitting the ‘net.

In one of many vulnerable moments of the film, Kayla is browsing her crush’s Insta and doing a little practice kissing on her hand. I used to do practice kissing on my hand, but I never had photos of my love interests; I always just had to remember what they looked like until I saw them at school again.

Caught up in the moment, she doesn’t hear when her dad knocks, and throws her beloved, precious iPhone across the room.

Tragedy!

The screen has a spiderweb crack in it when she picks it up. Shortly thereafter she’s toggling apps and a crack in the screen cuts her finger and draws actual blood, but she scrolls right through the pain. In my opinion, a brilliant illustration of how insidious addiction can be.

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Being diagnosed with Acute Anxiety Disorder as a very young age, my heart breaks for Kayla. Humans without some anxiety fixation will likely feel for her just as deeply. Her analogy of always feeling like she’s in line to ride a roller coaster, but never feeling the exhilaration of actually taking the ride resonates profoundly.

Eighth Grade is a loving gut-punch of a film. The R rating of the film could be construed as a hindrance for persons under 18, or a helpful way to get teens to the theater with their parents or guardians.

Bo Burnham came out of nowhere with this movie. Or so it seemed, to me at least. Apologies to Bo if I’m the only person who didn’t know he was working on this. I’d watched his comedy before and if there’s one thing to be said about the guy, it’s that he’s got no shortage of inventiveness and perspective.

A few years younger than I am, Bo seems to have a firm grasp on the world we live in and the problems it’s got. We’re a confused species, placing importance on things that don’t tend to matter in the long run and all but ignoring the stuff that does. That idea is captured here with frightening accuracy.

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My personal interest and appreciation for Eighth Grade comes from a place that I don’t like to go often; the damage sustained from my own time served in Middle School. It stings. Movies like this give me hope! Elsie Fisher does a flawless portrayal of a young woman looking for her place in the world. The only difference I saw between Kayla and my 13-year-old self was that she seemed a lot more courageous than I ever was. Fisher plays Kayla awkwardly in all the best ways.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I checked out Spotify for the soundtrack to the film and was over the moon to see that the composer is a woman! Rare find, but thrilling! Anna Meredith is her name and this score is sublime. I may have cried a little when I saw that. More female composers!

Anyway, to leave you with some advice from Kayla Day, be yourself, put yourself out, and be CONFIDENT! Gucci!

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Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

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I can recall sitting on the carpet in front of our television when I was something like 8-years-old. Flipping through the twelve-ish channels we had, I’d click past it several times before stopping to see what it was; a tiger puppet, a king, a human lady talking to all of them — what in the world was going on?

My mottled adolescent brain had been so thoroughly exhausted by video games and far-too-violent cartoons by the very green age of eight to appreciate the purity going on in that little world of make-believe.

Now, I’ll be honest; we live in a world where — when grown men have a vested interest in children — it’s easy to draw one simple, horrifying conclusion. Looking at Fred Rogers through my adult eyes, it’s as though I am conditioned to believe there was something salacious or unsavory fueling his motives.

That voice saying, “be wary” lives in all of us. It is our natural instinct to be protective or cautious when something or someone seems too good to be true. We’re quick to think that danger is lurking around every corner. It’s not our fault; it’s the world around us. There is evil here.

Mercifully, however, there is also benevolence. Fred Rogers was a living, breathing manifestation of altruism.

After television sets made their way into several homes across the nation, Fred had the opportunity to watch one. On it, he saw people getting hit in the face with pies and falling down for satirical purposes. Rogers thought the content of the shows he saw was doing the medium a disservice.

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He landed a job at NBC, but felt, still, that the quality of shows targeting a younger demographic were essentially a waste and wouldn’t properly educate children.

Not long after his departure from NBC, Rogers began working at WQED — a public television station in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There he would work on a program called The Children’s Corner as a puppeteer. Nearly a decade later, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood would become a household favorite, capturing the hearts of children everywhere.

The Neighborhood wasn’t particularly glamorous, but its modesty gave way for something more profound; quality.

Youngsters could relate to what they were seeing and hearing. The far out, often graphic fare offered by many other programs being advertised to the same group that Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was just couldn’t give them comparable content.

Fred was angry that adults would allow kids to be mislead by mainstream media. His outrage when he learned of a young boy who was injured by jumping out a window — thinking he could fly if he was wearing his Superman cape — made its own episode of Neighborhood.

The show frequently featured content that you just wouldn’t find elsewhere. It covered topics like war, assassination, and racism in a way that children could comprehend. The show embraced diversity and created an atmosphere where viewers could feel safe.

While the documentary feels like it’s holding back a bit, we’re given a window to the world of Fred Rogers. Audiences are also treated to interviews with good friends of Fred’s — Yo-Yo Ma and François Clemmons — and the woman who knew him most intimately, his wife, Joanne Rogers.

Typically, the more you know about a person, the easier it is to dislike them. That might sound a bit cold-blooded, but, think about it.

The opposite seems to be true in this case. The more you learn about Mister Rogers, the more you love the guy. His empathetic, earnest nature was palpable. Sadly, it’s the kindest people with the biggest hearts who are let down the hardest by malevolence.

Whether Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood shaped your childhood or not, we could all use a dose of goodness in these turbulent times. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? serves up happy vibes and inconvenient truths in the same package and leaves its viewer feeling thoughtful and, yes, probably a bit teary-eyed.

The world would be a more wholesome place with more people like Fred Rogers and we are better for having had him at all, even if only for a time.

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Hereditary

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If I were to make a list of my favorite movies from the last couple of years or so, I can say with a modicum of certainty that very likely 50% or more of them would be A24 films. The company — founded fairly recently in 2012 — has given the movie-going public mind-benders like The VVitch, Ex Machina, and The Lobster.

Clearly, they have a propensity for leaving an audience breathless.

With a number of inevitably exciting films yet to come in 2018, Hereditary is their freshest nightmare fuel fare.

Following the passing of her mother, Annie (Toni Collette) eulogizes the Graham family matriarch’s very private nature, telling mourners that even disclosing an aggressively modest amount of information about the woman feels like a betrayal.

With two teenaged children at home, Charlie (Milly Shapiro) and Peter (Alex Wolff), Annie and her husband, Steve (Gabriel Byrne), work together to maintain normalcy in the house, minus one member.

A miniaturist artist, Annie is struggling to meet a deadline with a client. Her work doubles as a sort of therapy in that we see her professional projects alongside her personal ones; miniature embodiments of the eerie imagery that lives between her ears.

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Parsing her feelings about her late mother, her waxing/waning relationship with her husband, and the lack thereof with her two children, Annie has a lot on her proverbial plate.

It would seem that strange goings-on pile up one after another, though I wouldn’t have called the Graham household terribly “normal” to begin with. Finding camaraderie in a new friend, Annie begins to lose her footing and slip back into unsettling tendencies.

To tell you anything more about the plot of the film would be unfair.

As a person who enjoys the thrill of a good scary movie, Hereditary felt… different. It filled me with a sense of dread from start to finish. Families often have secrets, but this made my own look like the Brady Bunch.

Shapiro and Wolff — as the offspring of a mother who would appear to the naked eye to be totally off the reservation — are perfectly creepy, as children often are. Shapiro was given a role that required her to channel some truly jarring behavior while maintaining the idea that she is, in fact, still a child. A tall order that Shapiro pulls off seemingly effortlessly.

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As Annie’s son and her husband, Wolff and Byrne are the very portrait of a family wrecked by the loss of a loved one who is still living and breathing. Byrne’s crumbling attempts to keep law and order are both heartening and agonizing while we see Collette’s Annie spiral farther into darkness. Her startling, unhinged performance is positively extraordinary.

While the film itself thrives on its ghastly premise, Collette ups the ante and becomes what I imagine the human form of sleep paralysis looks like.

Director Ari Aster’s feature-length debut comes on the heels of several shorts — the first of which is possibly his most well-known — called The Strange Thing About The Johnsons. Aster wrote and directed the film — available on YouTube. While I recommend checking it out to get a decent gauge of Aster’s style, I don’t think that anything can quite prepare one for Hereditary.

Making it to the ending credits was akin, for me, to waking from a nightmare; you’re back in the real world, but it’s gonna take some time to shake what you’ve just experienced.

Or are you still asleep?

A silent theater shuffles out into the hallway and quiet murmurs of, “wow” and “… what?” bounce between audience members. In other words, the film achieves what it sets out to do.

Hereditary goes above and beyond the call of duty for a horror/supernatural/thriller — whatever you want to call it. It is a slow burn that eventually engulfs everything in its path and will likely be discussed for years to come as an example of how to get someone to sleep with all the lights on.

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Deadpool 2

 

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About a year ago, a movie called Hunt for the Wilderpeople came out. It starred veteran actor Sam Neill AKA Dr. Alan “They Do Move in Herds” Grant, and a young man by the name of Julian Dennison.

Julian stole the show as a foster child with a propensity for gangsta’ tendencies. Behind his rough and tumble persona lived a boy who just wanted a home; a family.

I fell for that kid so hard. I would have fictionally adopted Ricky Baker. I would real life adopt Julian Dennison. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t need to be adopted, but I’m putting it out there anyway.

Why am I bringing this up? What does this have to do with Deadpool? STAY WITH ME.

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Dennison stars alongside Reynolds in the second installation of this expletive-laden extravaganza. However, reader, for your benefit, this review will be left sparse on details. Deadpool 2 offers much to delight its audience and does so in spectacular fashion.

Only a total bonehead would spoil such a thing.

What I can tell you:

  • Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) is back with more four-letter antics.
  • His mission is to protect Russell (Julian Dennison)
  • Their mutual antagonist is Cable (Josh Brolin)
  • Will you see old favorites like Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), Dopinder (Karan Soni), and Vanessa (Morena Baccarin)? YES
  • Will you meet new favorites like Domino (Zazie Beetz), Black Tom Cassidy (Jack Kesy), and Peter (Rob Delaney)? YES
  • Does the movie earn its R rating just like the first one did? YES

What I can’t tell you:

  • EVERYTHING ELSE

For a crass, bloody, f-word of a film, Deadpool 2 has a sentimental side that’ll tug at the heartstrings of even its toughest critic. The first movie had its fair share of sensitivity and tender moments for a film that seemed to be striving for most f-bombs used in a single feature-length motion picture.

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That’s the thing about Deadpool — he’s such a jerk sometimes, but his heart is definitely in the right place. Ryan Reynolds takes care to give this audience exactly what they’re looking for and more.

Speaking as a fan who hasn’t scoured the pages of every comic book ever, I can tell you that this movie is made — with love — for everyone. I, personally, appreciate a film that can balance solid laughs, tears shed, and head-crushing hand-to-hand combat everywhere in between.

In that same vein, there were a couple of references in the film that were only just slightly lost on me. Those are treats for the super fans and well-deserved.

I was very excited to see a writing credit for Reynolds on this film along with his producing credit. I’ve been a fan of his for a while, my favorite being Just Friends. For a long time it seemed as though he was pigeonholed into rom-com roles that didn’t quite fit. It’s wonderful to see him in the role he was born to play. I say this with all of the earnestness at my command — no one else could play Wade Wilson. Deadpool is Ryan Reynolds the same way that Ironman is Robert Downey Jr. and every CGI character ever is Andy Serkis.

It is very much his role.

Director David Leitch is kind of just getting his feet wet with only a few directing credits to his name, but did a bang up job. I think I’d love to see Reynolds direct the third film — should there be one — himself. I think I’d also love to be in on that writer’s room with Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Zombieland, Deadpool). I assure there is nothing “lazy” about this writing.

Deadpool 2 is impressively funny, well-written, and spends two hours giving the finger to the fourth wall. It’s everything you’re hoping for and some things you didn’t even know you wanted. I personally can’t wait to see it again, if only for that sweet MTV Unplugged version of Take On Me by a-ha on the butt-kicking soundtrack for the film that is rich, robust, and sometimes has dubstep. And, as your film score fan of the year, Alan Silvestri composed music for Deadpool 2 that covers a wide range of emotions and dynamics.

Go see it. Stay through the credits. Repeat. As Mr. Pool says, “So, from our family to yours, keep your pants dry, your dreams wet, and remember, hugs not drugs.”

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Tully

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As a 30-something woman who is unmarried and childless, Tully looked like playful, middle-aged canon. On first glance, we see a trailer featuring a mom with carry-on luggage under her eyes and a clueless husband who spends his free time playing video games.

Tully tells a tale as old as time; a married couple whose bond exists mainly on a notarized piece of paper. Marlo (Charlize Theron) and her husband Drew (Ron Livingston) have three children — a sweet-yet-outspoken young lady, a little boy who is a bit of a loose cannon, and a newborn.

When Marlo is gifted a paid-for nighttime nanny from her well-to-do brother, Craig (Mark Duplass), she’s skeptical. Most new mothers don’t want to leave their babies with acquaintances, much less strangers.

There’s a lot to be said for quality of life when one reaches the point of imminent extinction due to exhaustion, and Marlo quietly caves after a meeting with the principal at her son’s school leaves her examining new education options for him in a mandatory fashion.

Like a sunset after a storm, Tully (Mackenzie Davis) arrives.

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Though they’ve never met, Marlo and Tully have a very quick familiarity. Tully has a very serene way about her that helps to put Marlo at ease. She’s great with the baby and seems to know Marlo like an old friend.

Drew begins to notice the shift in Marlo and everything turns around for the family. As an audience member, I was forced to wait on the edge of my seat for the other shoe to drop.

There’s more to Tully than meets the eye. Writer Diablo Cody previously penned gems like Juno and Young Adult. At the surface, they appear to be your typical dramedy fare, but her films tend to take the viewer to a place they weren’t expecting to go.

Tully takes a conscientious approach to this genre. It is a bracing interpretation of life and the toll it takes. Director Jason Reitman — who worked with Charlize on Young Adult — presents moviegoers with an authentic on-screen experience, much like what we’ve come to expect from him.

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That said, I have to imagine that Charlize doesn’t take much direction to deliver a sublime performance. Tully is no exception to that and Charlize’s name ought to be mentioned come awards season.

When credits rolled, a woman next to me asked, “Where have I seen Mackenzie Davis before?”

She’s been around for ages and after Tully, I find myself seeking out her entire body of work. Most famously, she starred in what is widely regarded as the most beloved episode of Black Mirror, San Junipero. She also stole the show in the box office flop, That Awkward Moment, and popped up in Blade Runner 2049, as well.

To the naked eye, Tully is a movie for the female demographic, but underneath that, it is such a human film. The flaws that make us people coupled with superbly illustrated insecurities so many of us have a difficult time coming to terms with are a structural entity in this film.

Tully is a relatable and funny flick, but gives its viewer so much and takes so little. One of my favorites of the year so far, Tully is in theaters May 3rd!

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Avengers: Infinity War

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It was very nearly six years ago now that The Avengers came barging into theaters around the world like the Kool-Aid man. I remember seeing it the day of its release and thinking, “I need to see EVERY. SINGLE. FILM. that has anything to do with superheros EVER.”

That feeling lasted about a day.

Marvel has a fan base that is — for lack of a better term — overwhelming, in a lot of ways. There are people in the world who will verbally deliver you to Hades for questioning Captain America’s intentions or speculating on the relationship between Bruce and Natasha.

There are grown men and women who know more about the Marvel Universe than the actual one they exist in. And good for them! I think at this point, that place is safer.

No matter whose corner you’re in, Marvel has something for everyone. For me, Marvel and Taika Waititi gave me my favorite character, Korg, in Thor: Ragnarok. They know their audience — a good portion of the planet — and seem to have an endless supply of what I like to call Movie Crack; an extremely addictive plot device/story/character/score that you simply can’t get enough of it.

This review is going to be scant on details because I would never dream of potentially spoiling a single detail for any of you.

Avengers: Infinity War is centered around a villain who thinks he is a hero named Thanos (Josh Brolin). His goal is to collect all of the Infinity Stones — that look a LOT like Sonic’s Chaos Emeralds — and destroy half of the population of the entire universe.

This installment of the franchise is billed at 2 hours and 40 minutes long. That only seems long. When one considers all of the story being jigsawed to form a whole, the movie — realistically — could have been longer.

In the first 10 minutes or so, we get follow-up on that Ragnarok credits scene featuring a hammer-less Thor (Chris Hemsworth) followed by catching up with Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and Tony & Pepper (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow) back on Earth.

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Bruce is running the Thanos warning down to NYC in the style of Paul Revere warning of the British. Somewhere on a fieldtrip, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) and his spidey sense get wind of the doom about to befall the city and he swings into action. I don’t quite get why Tony Stark doesn’t like the lad, but I enjoy the banter.

Meanwhile, somewhere in space, Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), and the rest of the Guardians crew are cruising along when they, too, learn of Thanos’ impending arrival.

I’d like to take a moment here to say that, as a wrestling fan, I can not only relate to the fandom of the superhero genre, but every time Dave Bautista — who plays Drax — was on-screen, I had a big, stupid grin plastered on my face.

Over in Europe, Wanda and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) have their first run-in with Thanos’ soldiers, the Black Order; they are ruthless and loyal to their gigantic overlord and willing to do whatever it takes to get the stones he seeks.

Still to come are, of course, a bearded Steve Rogers (Chris Evans), a blonde Natasha (Scarlett Johansson), and — off in Wakanda (forever) — are Bucky (Sebastian Stan), T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), his tech-savvy sister Shuri (Letitia Wright), and Okoye (Danai Gurira).

Honestly, there are so many people in this movie. I think I’m in it at some point. It’s an impressive feat. Hearing folks say things like, “I’ve been waiting for this movie for nearly a decade” is pretty cool. It’s going to be a surreal experience for them.

Anytime you get this many stars in one film, it’s going to be explosive. For me, I imagine it’s like a Royal Rumble in the wrestling world, with men and women. Literally every superstar they’ve got. And they’re all just doing what they do best.

I can’t speak on the intricacies of the stories behind every character. I never read the comics and I’ve seen a handful of the movies leading up to this one.

That said, I think Anthony and Joe Russo absolutely nailed it. My writer brain took to picking apart scenes that I thought could have been funnier, but they don’t pay me to write these movies. Yet.

Truth be told, writing a Marvel movie seems like an incredibly tall order. My regards to Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, as well.

Infinity War is a movie that is written, with love, for the fans. It is brimming with effects that will melt IMAX moviegoers’ faces off of their heads. Alan Silvestri composes the score to accompany the on-screen maelstrom, giving the audience a submursive experience fit for the fan who has patiently awaited this moment.

Your diligence leading up to Infinity War is about to pay off in spades. If I may make a couple of suggestions — bring some tissues and a stress ball. You’ll be learning the fates of characters you’ve invested your time and emotions in. In the meantime, keep me in your thoughts — my mother is a massive Robert Downey Jr. fan and I’ve refused to tell her what happens.

Enjoy!

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Blockers

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They’ve finally done it! They’ve finally made a film about high schoolers that isn’t centered around 2-4 white males and their token black acquaintance!

But, a movie called Blockers — what could that be about? The invention of BluBlocker Sunglasses?

Surely not.

John Cena becoming the coach of an all-girl football team? I might’ve liked that better.

Were it not for the surreptitiously placed rooster on the film’s poster, we mightn’t know that — in fact — this movie is about cock blocking.

Happily, the film doesn’t focus on three white men. This time, it’s two white men and one white woman. There are SOC (spouses of color) in the film, which is progress, I suppose.

We’re getting somewhere.

When Julie, Kayla, and Sam (Kathryn Newton, Geraldine Viswanathan, and Gideon Adlon, respectively) become friends in grade school, they form of a lifelong bond. Or at least a bond that lasts until the summer before college.

Forming a fellowship of their own, the parents of the young ladies, Lisa, Mitchell, and Hunter (Leslie Mann, John Cena, and Ike Barinholtz, respectively), lean on one another for emotional support when their girls become women in the blink of an eye.

Hatching a #SEXPACT, Julie, Kayla, and — reluctantly — Sam decide that prom night is THE night to become deflowered.

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Deflowered, if you’re wondering, is a term that was used in the dark ages to describe the process of a woman losing her virginity before anybody was ready to admit women have vaginas.

When the ‘rents get wind of the #SEXPACT, they set out to — you guessed it — cock block the children. A Superbad-esque romp ensues, replete with gallows humor seemingly written by a stoned 13-year-old.

I don’t know if the writing in this movie was — at times — actually funny, or if it was just the comedic prowess of Mann, Cena, Barinholtz, and a few other heavy hitters popular in the genre that I won’t spoil for you.

Director Kay Cannon — who has dabbled in the Pitch Perfect sequels and a generous handful of 30 Rock episodes — flexes a very distinct voice she’s developed over the years. She was ideal to have in the driver’s seat for Blockers, as she’s able to capture the voices of people objectively, without injecting tons of testosterone into films like this one, which could easily fall into that trap.

Blockers could have easily fallen into so many trope categories, but seems to have avoided such an unfortunate circumstance. A film like this could easily use absurdity as a crutch, as they often do. That said, this one dips its toe in the silliness-bordering-on-totally-unbelievable pool and nothing more — and it works!

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Newton, Adlon, and Viswanathan are three young actors I’d be paying attention to, if I were you. I felt about them the way I felt about Emma Stone when I saw Easy A; they’re all going places in a hurry and have exciting careers on the horizon.

It’s a switcheroo from the typical teen-dramedy fare that doesn’t take itself too seriously or drone on and on for far too long. I guess the takehome message is that, if you truly love your child, you’ll chug a beer with your butt. Thanks, John Cena, for your service.

Love, Simon

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In years past, representation of anything non-hetero in television and film has been pretty dismal. Of course, there are exceptions to that statement — Blue is the Warmest Colour, Milk, Moonlight — but for the most part, on-screen homosexuality isn’t typically captured or portrayed in a way that represents real life.

This is problematic for a profusion of reasons.

A lot of people realize their own sexual awakenings from a steamy scene on their favorite show. For me personally, I remember watching a K.D. Lang music video and having attraction to another person who was ALSO a female for the first time. Years later, I had a crush on Kyle MacLachlan.

If you know what both of these people look like, you’re probably drawing a line from point A to point B that isn’t quite straight, but definitely makes sense.

Right around that time, somewhere in the 90s, MacLachlan played Lang on Saturday Night Live and my life came full circle.

This digressed farther than I meant it to.

Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is, as he will tell you, a pretty happy teen. His dad, Jack (Josh Duhamel) was the high school quarterback and married the “hot valedictorian”, Emily (Jennifer Garner). He has a sister he actually likes, Nora (Talitha Bateman), who spends her days cooking and baking in the family’s fabulous granite countertop kitchen.

When he’s not at home in his impossibly cool bedroom that is literally covered in stickers and posters that represent his extensive love of music that a 17-year-old in 2018 wouldn’t probably know about, Simon spends time with his BFFs, Leah, Abby, and Nick (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, and Jorge Lendeborg Jr., respectively).

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He’s in drama, loves iced coffee, and is practically connected via IV to his phone — like any other teenager.

But, as he’ll tell you himself, he’s got one huge ass secret. Thinking he’s the only one feeling this way, Simon is surprised when another student at school posts to an anonymous message board about being gay and not knowing what to do about it.

Simon takes it upon himself to reach out to his classmate to relate and the two wind up finding a safe space inside the anonymity bubble of the internet. Unfortunately, nothing gold can stay, and these intimate emails fall into the wrong hands.

Simon will have to potentially compromise his sacred friendships to keep his secret safe.

But why? Why would someone have to keep from their loved ones a detail of paramount importance to who they are?

Because the world is full of evil.

Simon suggests the idea that straight is the default and wonders why straight kids don’t have to come out to their parents as well. It’s worth taking a moment to truly consider that.

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The message this movie sends across is that we should be able to love who we love and be who we are. I was there for it, too. I am 1000% on board with love is love. Love, Simon is charming, heartfelt, and quite well-written.

It was not lost on me that there was a montage set to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” by Whitney Houston featuring Jennifer Garner’s movie son. If you’ll recall, Garner had her own colorful montage set to that very song in 13 Going On 30. Yes, I remember that well. And daily.

I’m saying all of this because — while I enjoyed Love, Simon very much — I couldn’t help but think about the fact that real coming out stories don’t often follow the same path as this one. I know plenty of people who’ve come out to families who no longer speak to them.

Love, Simon paints a picture of an idyllic family in this sort of utopia where the family is happy all the time and everything is beautiful. The kids at school all get along and there’s a cheeky Vice Principal (Tony Hale) who doesn’t quite get the kids but tries way too hard and it’s comedic relief in all the right places.

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I’m not trying to rain on this movie’s parade at all. I thoroughly enjoyed myself — to the point of tears. However, I do worry that kids who are struggling with their own identities might see this film and gain the hope that their stories might play out the way this one does.

Most of them won’t. It’s a travesty, but it’s the reality of the situation. This movie is an escape from the world. Which is exactly what movies are supposed to be sometimes. Maybe someday, everyone who tells the world who they really are will be celebrated and a rainbow will appear out of nowhere and a fun 80s song will play while two people of the same sex kiss to the cheers of a crowd.

For now, we’ve got a movie that wants to lead us in that direction and has its heart in the right place. It’s a pure delight in a time shrouded in abysmal grey fog. Love, Simon hits theaters this weekend. See it and then check out the equally playful and sweet soundtrack (available on Spotify) for some extra good vibes!

Love, Katie.