It was the second great movie of 2018 (the first was Paddington 2, obvi) and remains one of the best happy cry movies we’ve ever encountered. Love, Simon has only existed as a picture for a scant handful of months, but we’re fully obsessed and prepared to tell everyone who will listen that it is a must watch, especially now that Annemarie has finally seen it.
So, AM, kick us off with all of the classic questions: How much did you love this movie, why did I pick it, and just how many happy tears did you cry?
A: Remember when we talked about crying triggers? I feel like that happens all the time, on every communication channel, but we’re sensitive empaths, you and I. Anyway, Jennifer Garner crying is a crying trigger for me. It was true when Sydney Bristow’s life was being shattered in Alias, and it’s true in Love, Simon. Plus you can’t not explode with joy at least a little bit when the pen pal’s identity is revealed. Is that a spoiler? I never know if we’re going to be coy or just assume our friends reading this have seen the thing we’re discussing.
I mean, you picked it because it’s delightful and real and heartfelt, and also: music. Jack Antonoff did a spectacular job adding to the mood of this film, and you did mention that to me several times before, during and after we watched this.
Those are the main reasons, but what else, Brooke? Shall we discuss this in spoiler-free jargon or just go full spoil?
B: You touched on all of the major points, AM. Love, Simon is a delightful teen love story. It’s also a bit revolutionary in that it celebrates the first love of a gay teen the way so many pictures of the same ilk have celebrated heterosexual romances before. It’s Can’t Hardly Wait meets Never Been Kissed meets something totally fresh and delightful. Honestly, I can’t get enough of it. I love that Simon’s parents are cool and that the vice principal is not cool, but in an endearing way. I love Simon’s room and that one dance number and the way the mystery of Blue’s identity keeps everyone guessing with glee. For that reason, I’m going to insist we stick with calling the love interest Blue, for anyone who hasn’t yet had the joy of watching this delightful picture.
Clearly, we’re very into Love, Simon, so let’s talk about why this secret identity romance works so well, which is to say let’s discuss basically everything about this movie. I’ll go first. I think the supporting characters outside of Simon and his close friends and that jerk Martin are critical to this movie feeling so alive.
First, the family. Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel as annoyingly attractive parents are complete gems. They say things like “If you were my patients you’d be much more well adjusted,” and, “I was thinking we could sign up for Grindr together.” It’s precious. And let’s not even talk about how they bring the tears because then we’ll just start crying. Then there’s Natasha Rothwell as the greatest drama teacher of all time. She shades her students and tells the truths they need to hear, but she also defends Simon in a very strong, public and hilarious way when she roundly dismisses a homophobic prank from some resident jocks by referring to them as “sweaty, hormonal, virgins” before throwing down a future portrait of those dudes as “the fat, bald, unhappily married, wildly mediocre nobodies,” that they are destined to be. I couldn’t love her more.
Okay, AM. Tell me about your favorite side character. And if you can, talk to me about the many potential Blues in this movie without tipping the cards.
A: Ok, fine. I won’t name names. I was heartily relieved that they did reveal Blue’s identity, because I think a worst-case-scenario would have been that Blue was a figment of Simon’s imagination. That would have made me furious.
Honorable mention before sidetracking to side characters: My second favorite parenting moment of the movie is when Simon comes in drunk with Leah and his parents determine that since he’s home on time and didn’t drive, they’ll ignore the fact that their underage child is wasted. My first favorite moments are reserved for when Simon and his parents discuss his secret, but it’s too spoilery to discuss here. Let’s also not forget Simon’s chef sister! I’m mad Simon never takes more than a bite, but he seems to humor and encourage her talent and passion, so it’s v cute. I would have loved to see a bit more between the brother and sister, but this film is A) about Simon’s first love and B) about Simon’s relationship with his friends so we don’t see a ton.
I adore pretty much everyone and certainly the people you mentioned, but I have to focus on Leah, Simon’s best gal pal. Let’s just say I relate to Leah SO HARD. I was that girl. My first boyfriend, Joel, asked me out in 6th grade and we were so young that I didn’t take it too personally when we didn’t so much as hold hands and the relationship lasted a week. It was confusing but I didn’t really stop liking him. Also, I had a huge crush on Joel when we were freshmen in high school. The kicker? Joel is gay. He had high school girlfriends like a lot of the dudes I know who are now out, and I blame our jock-forward culture. Which is another reason Love, Simon is so damn relatable. My high school was pretty much the environment shown here, minus the homophobic grandstanding of the “wildly mediocre” bullies here. This is, however, about Leah, and I love that she loves her best friend and it’s just so bittersweetly perfect.
And, now to the potential Blues. Simon (and the audience) doesn’t know who Blue is for most of the movie, so he imagines that every guy he encounters who just might be flirting with him is Blue. This is also super relatable, right? It certainly was a thing I would do, to imagine that the guy walking down the hall who might glance up is secretly infatuated with you. It’s a high school thing, but also a human thing, to assume that everything is about you and the universe is just that fair, to pair you with a secret handsome crush who also secretly loves you.
I’ve unpacked a lot, Brooke, let’s hear your thoughts on the secret love tale and how they let it play out.
B: The approach to Simon’s romance with Blue is one of the things I love most about this movie. It’s pretty great that their relationship starts out as nothing more than someone to talk to and the honest exchanges they share leads to love. It gets you right in the feels. I will admit that I didn’t get it quite right the first time I watched the movie. I had it and then I waffled, which would normally make me mad, but the surprise was pretty delightful in this case. My favorite part of this rewatch was when our friend Rebs (HI REBS!) decided it was a Fight Club situation and yelled, “twist!”
You already touched on this a bit, but let’s talk about the music in this movie. As far as I’m concerned, this soundtrack easily lands among the likes of Clueless, Dazed and Confused and Juno, which are all endlessly listenable and essential to the landscape of the movie. I’ve been singing “Rollercoaster” for months. Gimme all your thoughts!
A: I don’t find the music as iconic as Clueless, but I get what you’re going for. The music is pure joy and delight, giving us a great time and place without it feeling too targeted to 2018, specifically. That feels refreshing and absolutely the type of soundtrack you could listen to five years from now and still find as delightful.
We can’t talk too much more about the ending (both the awesome and the painful parts) without running into serious danger of spoiling the proceedings, so I will leave this with one final thought: Let us all strive to be as kind, empathetic and patient as Abby is when Simon comes out to her. Any final thoughts, Brooke?
B: I’ll second you there, Abby has the perfect reaction. And I’ll add this, if you get lucky enough to have a sister who makes you incredible looking pancakes, eat them! Oh, and if your mom wants to watch The Affair, do it!
We’re sticking with the agony of growing up in our next selection, film festival fave Eighth Grade.