• by Wes Singleton

Love, Simon, B-


Rated PG-13, 110 minutes

The sweet, charming new romantic comedy "Love, Simon" is brave and courageous, though it often exists in a nearly-perfect world that seems unreachable. Even with its flaws, it's hard not to like what "Love, Simon" is trying to achieve, and that is true love and acceptance.

Everyone deserves a great love story, but for 17-year-old Simon Spier ("Jurassic World's" Nick Robinson, pictured here), it's a little more complicated. He hasn't told his family (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) or friends that he's gay, and he doesn't know the identity of the anonymous classmate that he's fallen for online. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.

The likable, touching rom com "Love, Simon" has good intentions and its heart in the right place, even it tends to wear rose-colored glasses a little too much. It's directed by

producer and writer Greg Berlanti (producer on TV's "Arrow") and is co-written by Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, based on the Young Adult novel "Simon and the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by Becky Albertalli.

It's essentially "The Perks of Being a (Gay) Wallflower" yet armed with some fun characters and sweet moments. The most compelling aspect is the conflict Simon faces when coming out, though some of its plotting, particularly Simon's mystery boyfriend, is more predictably suited for the small screen. Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Keiynan Lonsdale and Logan Miller are all charming as Simon's pals, some of whom may or may not know his big secret.

As his parents, Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel are a bland pairing, though the film's most touching scene comes near the end in a pertinent conversation between Simon and his mother ("you can exhale now,  Simon," she tells him). Still, as with many Hollywood efforts that deal with coming out, "Love, Simon" tends to exist an alternate universe where everyone, including family and friends, are loving and supportive to a fault, which may not exist in reality at the level portrayed here.

On that note, the film is content with ending as happily and neatly as a group hug, something so icky sweet you're likely to go "awww." One of the best things about "Love, Simon" is its energetic, indie soundtrack that includes Bleachers, The 1975 and Amy Shark, all featured prominently in the film.

The likable "Love, Simon" marches to the beat of its own drum, and while it's not as groundbreaking as it wants to be, it's a good start. Flawed yet appealing, it's still a coming out party you'll want to attend.

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