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'Love, Simon' is a breath of fresh YA air

'Love, Simon' is a breath of fresh YA air

Love, Simon is coming out March 16, and it’s everything the young adult film genre needs and more.

It's easy to fall in love with this story of a closeted gay teen who exchanges anonymous emails with someone at his high school -from its supporting cast (Tony Hale, Jennifer Garner and Miles Heizer, to name just a few in small roles that make a big difference), to songs from Bleachers and Walk the Moon that play under some of its most endearing moments. My expectations heading into a sold-out early screening February 13 were high, as a massive fan of everyone involved.

Love, Simon combines the best of its talented creators. I was raised on director Greg Berlanti’s Everwood - its characters, their journeys and values in a beautiful little Colorado town defined my young adulthood and made me fall in love with the simplicity of good storytelling. This Is Us is the best show network television has seen in a very long time, thanks in large part to poignant episodes penned by Love, Simon scribes Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (watch episode 2x15 if you haven’t yet). Author Becky Albertalli wrote Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the novel on which the film is based; I read another excellent book of hers - The Upside of Unrequited - in college, when unrequited crushes were all too real and familiar. And Nick Robinson made me laugh for more than 100 episodes as lovable Ryder Scanlon on Melissa & Joey, a sitcom that felt like it was from a different time. That’s how Love, Simon feels too, in a role that allows Robinson to spread his wings from being under-used in films like Everything, Everything and The Kings of Summer.

This is the sort of movie that I didn’t think really existed anymore, cast aside in favor of larger, louder offerings. With this release and others like it, it seems we might finally be crawling out from under the dystopian rubble that has characterized the young adult genre for almost a decade. The maze runners are done running, the divergents aren’t being sorted into factions anymore and Katniss Everdeen has shot her last arrow. And though they had their own great lessons to teach us, I’m glad we’re finding our way back around to the Simons, who are little bit more like us. The kids who are heroic just for being themselves. The ones with goofy vice principals, annoying classmates and loving families.

The only experience you really need to appreciate Love, Simon is knowing what it’s like to be a teenager. Remember that? How it felt to be misunderstood, or weird, or like there’s a part of your story that’s yet to be told, even though everyone expects you to have it all figured out. Not life-or-death stakes, just life. Family. Trying to enjoy being young while it lasts. When the world isn’t literally crashing down around you, but it feels like it is. Everwood and Dawson’s Creek and other wonderful Berlanti offerings were there for me during those days. So were Albertalli’s funny, smart books, and today, as an adult with a bit more perspective, so are Aptaker and Berger’s Pearson family. And maybe now Simon Spier will be there for all the kids who need him, too.

© Georgiana E. Presecky (2/13/18) FF2 Media

Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox

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