Film Review: Wonderful ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’ Captures Teenage Life with Grace

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CHICAGO – Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” based on his hit book of the same name, is the most pleasant and accomplished surprise of the year, a delightful, sweet, funny, and moving examination of teenage life that merits comparison to John Hughes and Cameron Crowe. With stellar performances all around and a spectacular screenplay that does the one thing that most teen dramedies miss by taking its characters seriously, this film may start slowly given the crowded marketplace and low expectations for its genre but I have no doubt that it will become one of the most cherished and beloved films of 2012. Like the work of Hughes and Crowe, it is a movie that grateful fans will wrap their arms around and return to for decades like leafing through an old photo album. It is a truly unexpected gift this Fall movie season. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

Perhaps the most surprising element of “Perks” is the strikingly genuine and heartfelt performance at its core from an actor who has not displayed this kind of depth before in mainstream junk like “The Three Musketeers” as Logan Lerman imbues the lead character of Charlie with just the right blend of insight, emotion, and apprehension. It’s going to be one of the most underrated performances of the year because Lerman makes it look so much easier than it actually is. Working with Chbosky, the two turn Charlie into more than mere teen movie protagonist. He is likable, relatable, and such an easy character to root for on his journey of love, joy, pain, depression, and all the other mixed emotions that come with daily life in high school.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in our reviews section.

Charlie is a wallflower. He sits back. He watches things happen. He doesn’t get involved. He clearly has a deep well of depression but he’s not a morbid character. Chbosky wisely doesn’t dress him in black and force him to scribble poetry in his dark bedroom. He’s more of an average high school freshman who just happens to have a truly disturbing past. And he finds comfort in a world of misfits willing to express their own unique personalities.

Charlie finds himself in a circle of friends led by two charismatic seniors – Sam (a fantastic breaking-free-from-Potter role by Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller of “We Need to Talk About Kevin”). As so many of us did in high school, Charlie falls for the older girl while Patrick teaches him a few lessons about expression and acceptance. Charlie makes other friends as well, including a punk rock girl (Mae Whitman) and a supportive teacher (Paul Rudd). His family (Dylan McDermott & Kate Walsh as his parents and Melanie Lynskey as his aunt, seen in important flashbacks) doesn’t quite understand him but supports his new circle of friends.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” review.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Johnny Simmons, Mae Whitman, Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott, Melanie Lynskey, and Paul Rudd. It was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky. It is playing in limited release now and opens wide on September 28, 2012. It is rated PG-13.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Photo credit: Summit

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