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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Love, Simon is a dramedy based on the YA novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. It focuses on a high school senior (Nick Robinson) who finds the confidence to come out after corresponding with an anonymous friend online. It's not as edgy as many teen movies, but there's still some iffy stuff. Two homophobic teens tease and prank Simon and another gay student, calling them "f-g," "fruity," and "she." And in the school cafeteria, they climb on a table and mime anal sex. Administrators and fellow students alike condemn the display and support Simon and the other student, ultimately cheering when two gay students kiss (there's other kissing, too). Teens drink beer and play drinking games at a party; one comes home drunk, and his parents decide not to do anything because he didn't drive drunk and came home by curfew. One joke refers to huffing paint, others to masturbation, "H.J.s," and Grindr. But overall, sex is referred to in not-very-graphic terms. A boy blackmails Simon to get time with Simon's cute female friend, and Simon goes along with it; he later atones, but the friend rightfully feels exploited. Language includes one use of "f--k," plus "dumbass," "s--t," "goddamn," and "a--hole." All of this said, the movie is positive and affirming, with messages of courage, integrity, and empathy. Characters are accepting of all of their friends' and family members' traits, including being gay, and are loving and supportive.
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What's the story?
LOVE, SIMON's Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) has a great life. He loves his family, he has friends, and he's doing well in school. There's just one big secret he's been keeping for a while: He's gay, and he's not sure whether he wants everyone to know. But when another boy comes out anonymously on the school's social media page, Simon makes a new friend who gives him the confidence to accept who he really is. Trouble looms, however, when Martin (Logan Miller), an abrasive fellow cast member in the school's production of Cabaret, gets hold of Simon's private emails and threatens to post them on the school's page if Simon doesn't convince his friend Abby (Alexandra Shipp) to hang out with Martin. Simon's secret is leaking out, and he's afraid. Can the people who are close to him love him just the way he is? And will he ever meet his pen-friend in person and find true love at last?
Is it any good?
Tender, sweet, and affecting, this is the mainstream romcom that gay teens might not have even known they needed. But when they watch it, they'll find themselves deeply reflected. Aside from art-house movies, which don't play in many of the places lots of young people live, gay teens aren't the stars of movies. They may be the wacky, bitchy best friends (who never get a love interest) or only recognizable via subtext, in longing glances, pregnant pauses, or dialogue that circles around something but doesn't quite get there. In Love, Simon, Simon's gayness is front and center, right in the first lines of the movie's dialogue. But the conflict isn't "how will this poor tortured homosexual live his poor tortured life?," it's whether Simon can accept himself and move confidently into his adult life as a gay man.
Spoiler alert: He does, and he's accepted by his circle of photogenic friends and kind, supportive parents -- heck, even the whole dang school, which gathers (unrealistically) to clap when Simon (further spoiler alert!) gets the guy. This movie isn't particularly quirky or deep; it's predictable, the characters are fairly thinly drawn, and both cheese and corn make their presence known. (Were you wondering whether this movie has both a huge teen house party and a big emotional speech at a football game? Yup!) But this is the movie a gay teen could watch with the whole family -- Grandma and Grandpa, too -- and not be embarrassed. And everyone in the room would be captivated by the appealing actors, the relatable romance and teen angst, and the gentle messages about kindness, acceptance, and love.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Love, Simon depicts teens. Are the characters and their decisions realistic? What about the consequences of those decisions?
How does the movie depict bullying? What should teens do if that happens to them? What should they do if they see it happening to someone else?
How does the movie portray drinking and drug use? Are they glamorized? If you've read the book, how does the movie's take on these subjects compare?
If you've read the book its based on, is Love, Simon a successful adaptation? What changes did the filmmakers make, and do you understand why they made them? What parts of the movie captured the book best, and what parts of the book did you miss not seeing in the movie?
- In theaters: March 16, 2018
- On DVD or streaming: June 12, 2018
- Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner
- Director: Greg Berlanti
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Book Characters, High School
- Character Strengths: Courage, Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 109 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: thematic elements, sexual references, language and teen partying
- Awards/Honors: Common Sense Seal
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