The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Directed By: Stephen Chbosky

Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Paul Rudd, Kate Walsh, and Dylan McDermott

It's been a long time since we've had a good teen movie.  These days, Hollywood spews crap at us like Prom and I Love You, Beth Cooper.  It's rare that we actually get a worthwhile flick that deals with growing up, surviving high school, and finding the right group of friends.  It's been a long time since the heyday of John Hughes when we were showered with a multitude of great coming-of-age movies like Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  We didn't really have anything great for this generation until Stephen Chbosky decided to adapt his novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower to the big screen.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is starting high school tomorrow, and he has absolutely no friends.  He's recently overcome some dark times in his life.  His parents (Kate Walsh and Dylan McDermott) are there for him, but he doesn't have anyone else.  Much doesn't change in that regard on the first day of school.  It is worth noting that Charlie does make a friend in kindred spirit and fellow writer Bill (Paul Rudd).  The problem here is that Bill is his English teacher, and he has no friends his own age.

In Charlie's shop class, there's a senior named Patrick (Ezra Miller) who tries to lighten the mood in the classroom by making fun of the instructor.  It backfires and the students start making fun of him in turn calling him "Nothing". Charlie decides to befriend him at a football game one night.  In the process, he meets Patrick's stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), and some lasting friendships begin.  When Sam and Patrick take Charlie to his first party, some seniors there get him baked.  Charlie tells Sam some things about his recent struggles, and she realizes there's no one else there for him.  She decides to make him part of her group of friends known as the wallflowers.  She welcomes him to her island of misfit toys, and they get to be psychos together.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is exactly what fun looks like.  It's hilarious.  It's heartwarming.  It's infinitely entertaining.  Author and director Stephen Chbosky really was the perfect guy to bring his own novel to life, and he's brought together a great group of young actors to tackle the characters he created more than a decade ago.  The film is just pure fun with a little drama on the side.  There are so many moments in this movie where I was in tears from laughter.

The cast knocks it out of the park.  As Charlie, Logan Lerman takes a serious comedic turn that I never would have expected of him.  Lerman really lures us in for his comedic punches by making his character relatable in so many ways.  We as viewers feel like we're on this journey through adolescence with him.  As Sam, Emma Watson takes on her first leading role since her days as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter.  She brings this vibrant energy to the film and commands our attention whenever she's on screen.  At the same time, she still maintains a certain elegance that she typically brings to the big screen.

Ezra Miller is definitely entertaining as Patrick.  He brings plenty of sass and silliness to the film.  Admittedly, it's a little difficult for me to watch Miller play such an effeminate character as I still think of him as that sick serial killer in last year's We Need to Talk About Kevin.  The supporting cast also brings quite a bit to the film.  Dylan McDermott continues the comedic turn he started in The Campaign last month, and Paul Rudd brings his usual brand of dry humor to the film.  Meanwhile, Kate Walsh brings a strong maternal presence to the movie whenever she's on screen.

Though it clearly is a blast from the past, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is the first well-made teen movie that addresses some of the problems teens face today (i.e., crappy music, bullying, homosexuality, and suicide).  Instead of laptops, iPhones, and Kindles, you'll see cassette tapes, big thick cordless phones, typewriters, and even paperback books in this flick.  The film definitely has an old school vibe.  Nonetheless, Stephen Chbosky succeeds where few filmmakers have done so in recent years in putting together a fun yet insightful teen flick that actually has some meaning for this generation.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower gets a solid 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.