Fellow scientists, a momentous discovery has been made: an honest-to-goodness great YA movie and adaptation! And it couldn't have happened to a more deserving book, Becky Albertalli's wonderful Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. So let's step inside the FYA laboratory to conduct some Highly Scientific Analysis! (The lightest and mildest of spoilers ahead, unless otherwise stated when there are GIANT spoilers.)
But first: a drinking game! (Truly, is it ever an FYA movie review without one? Even though alcohol is totally unnecessary for enjoyment purposes.)
THE OFFICIAL FYA LOVE, SIMON DRINKING GAME
Take a sip whenever:
• you're annoyed by Martin
• someone underage is drinking alcohol (which better not include any of y'all who are partaking in this game!)
For book readers, also take a sip whenever:
• you're delighted by your recognition of specific book callbacks
• you're not sure how you feel about a change
Take a drink whenever:
• Simon checks his email on his phone or a computer
• a scene is depicted from Simon's imagination
• Nora cooks up something in the kitchen
• Vice-Principal Worth confiscates a phone
• the secondhand cringe is TOO MUCH
Take a shot whenever:
• the morning routine ends with drive-through iced coffees
• someone's Halloween costume is stated or explained
Finish your drink whenever:
• something fist-pump worthy happens
Nick Robinson as Simon
Rosemary's Favourite Nick Robinson is so endearingly awkward as our Simon Spier, excelling at both comedy and drama.
Katherine Langford as Leah
I haven't watched 13 Reasons Why, so this was probably a much more upbeat role to see her play.
Alexandra Shipp as Abby
Abby's so amazing -- and made even more so by Alexandra Shipp's portrayal -- that I almost can't fault Martin for being in love with her. (Although I can fault him for everything else, but I'm getting ahead of myself.) WHO WOULDN'T BE?!?!?
Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Nick
Also pretty dang adorbs is JLJ as Nick, the carefree and easygoing jock.
Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as Emily and Jack, Simon's parents
After I stopped reeling from the fact that Sydney Bristow is now playing the mom of teenagers, I was able to properly appreciate this inspired casting. (But for real, Jennifer Garner has been playing awesome moms since Juno, so her being great in the role should come as no surprise.) Not to be left out, Tad Hamilton gets his chance to
make me feel old shine as well.
Logan Miller as Martin
UGH MARTIN. Granted, I was predisposed to dislike this character because of his book counterpart, but Logan Miller could be the heir to Paul Dano if he wants. (He plays obnoxious extremely well, is what I'm saying.)
Keiynan Lonsdale as Bram
Clark Moore as Ethan
The only out kid at Creekwood High, Ethan is unapologetically true to himself. He's basically the best non-book addition that the movie made.
Miles Heizer as Cal
It's the quiet kid from Parenthood playing the quiet kid from drama club!
Joey Pollari as Lyle
Meet the least convincing looking teenager of the cast. Thankfully, the actor's as much of a grown-ass adult as he looks (he's 23), because a book club friend and I were both like, "UMMMM, Waffle House is kind of hot."
Natasha Rothwell as Ms. Albright
I loved Ms. Albright in the book and I might love her even more in the movie, thanks to Natasha Rothwell's hilarious performance.
Tony Hale as Vice-Principal Worth
OOF. I was about to wonder why someone invented a clueless grownup for the movie, but take one look at the real world and clueless grownups might actually be vastly underrepresented. The vice-principal's an insufferable try-hard, but he does have a brief redeeming moment. (Not coincidentally, it's when he turns off the smarm.)
• In case it wasn't obvious enough, this cast is damn near PERFECTION. And they have great chemistry with each other!
• Look, I'm always hesitant to make direct comparisons since those can set expectations so high. BUT ACTUALLY THOUGH, this movie is indeed John Hughes-ian. (But, like, woke John Hughes.)
• More adaptation thoughts to come, but the movie totally captures the spirit of the book. Based on our sample size (LOOK, actual science!), 6 out of 6 Edmonton FYA Book Club members who loved the book also loved the movie, ERGO 100% SATISFIED READERS GUARANTEED. In fact, another book clubber and I enjoyed it so much that we were both audibly, shamelessly squeeing throughout the entire movie, much to the chagrin of the poor person sandwiched between us. (The lesson here is to choose your seat wisely. Or JUST EMBRACE THE SQUEE, JESSA.)
• We already knew he was the king of The CW, but Greg Berlanti knocked it out of the park in bringing Simon Vs. to life. I especially love how he depicted Blue as whichever guy Simon currently suspected and/or wished was Blue. (Plus, as a fellow hopeless romantic with an overactive imagination, I found this v. relatable of Simon.) Although if I wanted to pick a nit, there's an early scene with Simon literally putting on pants one leg at a time just like everyone else that's a little too on the nose.
• Y'all, there is some Nancy Meyers level of house porn. I can see many a teen coveting Simon's amazing bedroom, because I totally would have been one.
• The music is ON POINT, at least for someone listens to Bleachers and Banners as much as I do. (I occasionally branch out to bands that don't start with a 'B', too.)
• Shoutout to the marketing team, who has been CRUSHING. IT. From clever signs and billboards to love tweets, Love, Simon promo got noticed for all the right reasons.
BOOK AND MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD! Stop here, skip to the very last section ("Love, FYA"), or proceed at your own discretion.
• Simon imagining his straight friends having to come out (aka the "Why is straight the default?" scene), YES!!
• OMG THE COLLEGE FANTASY DANCE SCENE. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" has been stuck in my head ever since, and I don't mind at all.
• As someone who rarely cries at movies, my biggest tearjerkers were Simon's final email to Blue, and then when Blue finally reveals his identity and they kiss on the Ferris wheel BRB SOBBING.
• Honourable mention FOR HEARTBREAK: the fallout from Simon alienating all his friends. The lone iced coffee! </3
• The grownups (the three that matter, anyway) kicking ass through speeches: both of Simon's parents, as well as Ms. Albright!
• ... although one of my friends pointed out that both educators were wildly unprofessional and, like, should not have jobs, even if Ms. Albright was on the side of righteous anger at the bigoted bullies.
• And maybe my '90s teen movie upbringing is showing, but I was far too relieved that there wasn't a subplot about the two desperately single teachers hooking up.
• OK BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT MARTIN?!?! I didn't care for how he eventually (platonically) charmed Abby, because he really didn't do anything differently? Like, it'd be one thing if they actually found common ground, but the turning point was him acting petulant until he succeeded in getting her to cause a scene at Waffle House. For self-empowerment, sure, but still self-serving since by "I deserve a superhero", he meant he should be her superhero. When, in reality, ABBY CAN BE HER OWN DAMN SUPERHERO HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT MY GIRL LIKE THAT, WRITERS?!??
... ANYWAY. It didn't make sense that she found him gut-busting hilarious afterwards when he was still telling the same bad jokes. Not on board with Abby's good judgment being sacrificed in service of Martin freaking Addison, smh.
• However, Martin getting rejected was ramped way the hell up from the book -- probably to give him better motivation for outing Simon. But OH MAN, another candidate for maximum heartbreak: Simon yelling at Martin for being robbed of coming out on his own terms. (F-bomb alert!)
LOVE (?), ADAPTATION
• Granted, I'm not a stickler for exact details, and I deliberately didn't reread the book beforehand so that it wasn't super fresh in my mind and the movie could stand on its own a bit more. But I still caught plenty of nods to the book, even if movie-only viewers won't be able to fully appreciate them until they read the book. (READ THE BOOK, Y'ALL.)
- The Spiers watching The Bachelor. (Omg they would have SUCH OPINIONS on the most recent season.)
- OREOS, obvs, as well as strong opinions on Oreos.
- Simon wearing glasses in the school dance flashback.
• I noticed a few slight tweaks, but took no issues with any of them.
- Simon has a different email handle, although I did catch "Hour to hour, note to note" scribbled on his bedroom chalkboard wall.
- Speaking of, Simon and Blue don't share an obsession of Elliott Smith. Instead, Simon's on the lookout for a Game of Thrones fan.
- The drama production is Cabaret instead of Oliver Twist, and it's also quite the clusterfuck.
- Simon's Halloween party investigation into everyone's family history is no more, but he does get to put his foot in his mouth over a different awkward comment.
• Poor Simon's older sister got cut. I do remember liking her, but I also had no recollection of her name until I looked it up. (Sorry, Alice.)
• But we did get Bieber the dog! HASHTAG BLESSED.
• I did think it was weird when Simon and Leah had A Moment during their sleepover ("WTF? She loves Nick."). So then when the change was revealed, I was like, AWWW DANG IT, MY SUSPICIONS WERE VALID.
• Real talk: when Leah stated that she wasn't in love with Nick, I legit thought she was going to say she had been crushing on Abby instead of Simon. (Thought, hoped -- same difference.*) That was a swerve that I don't know if it was an improvement; Leah had so much angst over Abby becoming both best friend to Simon and object of affection to Nick while also trying to reconcile that with being her friend.
* Becky Albertalli did say that Simon assumes all of his friends are straight but they're not.
• Even though it wouldn't have realistically fit into one movie, I wish there was an even bigger focus on the friendships, since I loved how complex the group dynamics were in the book. Especially since I want ALLLLLLLLL the Becky Albertalli Cinematic Universe movies now.
• Also lost in adaptation: Cal being bi. He might be a minor character, but seeing more bi representation in pop culture would have been major.
THIS. MOVIE. Can you tell that I love it just a
little lot? Can you tell how happy and relieved I am that one of my favourite books was adapted with such care and love? Not only do I want it to succeed, but it absolutely deserves to. It's a throwback to the teen movies of yore, but teen movies are also never going back; audiences had to wait until 2018 for Love, Simon to be the first major studio film about a gay teenage romance, and we're definitely not going to be as patient to see more diverse representation. May this groundbreaking, trailblazing, heartwarming, and entertaining movie be the first of many in a more inclusive pop culture landscape.
fallen in love with watched Love, Simon yet? Hit me up with your thoughts in the comments! (Pro-tip: If you'd like to leave a spoiler-y comment, please use spoiler tags! (Instructions here.))
Love, Simon is in theatres now. (Go see the shizz out of it!)