The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is an indie coming of age drama starring Logan Lerman as an insecure teen entering his first year of high school, and Emma Watson and Ezra Miller as the step-siblings with their own issues that he befriends. Together they struggle their way through a difficult social year, and learn to confront their personal demons.

It’s a solid teen drama, with some genuine emotional weight to it. It’s pervasively “indie”, but manages to set itself apart via a strong central character and solid performances across the board.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is entering his first year in high school. Unfortunately, a personal tragedy set him back in Jr High and as a result, he doesn’t have any friends at this point. The tragedy has also left him with some mental health issues he has to deal with as well. It’s not all exactly a recipe for popularity, and for a brief time, the only one at his new school he connects with is his sympathetic English teacher (Paul Rudd).

Enter Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller), two step-sibling seniors with issues of their own. Patrick is gay, and his boyfriend Brad (Johnny Simmons) is deeply in the closet and embroiled with self loathing issues. Sam seems to be the girl who has everything together, but the choices she makes in her romantic life hint otherwise. Together, the three of them form a tight-knit bond, helping each other endure the cruelty of the social shark tank that is high school and working to get a grip on their own respective problems.

The biggest challenge to enjoying “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is that this sort of film has become a cliché of sorts. The high school misfits who band together and suffer the slings and arrows while trading mixtapes of underground music and espousing plaintive wishes that the world was a better place. But writer/director Stephen Chbosky (adapting his own novel here in his first major directorial effort) has put some honest feelings forth here in what is obviously a very personal film for him. He’s created some very damaged characters that have a degree of authenticity to them… the film really does a good job of establishing and conveying the various “hurts” they have to get past. Which helps offsets obvious wish fulfilment moments like the three of them staring in a live action Rocky Horror Picture show production.

Mainly however, the film helps you connect with the protagonist, played by Logan Lerman in a solid, low-key, likeable fashion. They do a great job of hinting at his instabilities and insecurities without heavy handedly shoving them under the audience’s noses. You wind up rooting for him to overcome his social ineptitudes and cheering for his small victories along the way. Chbosky has also created a level of interest by slowing revealing the trauma in Charlie’s past. That element adds a dramatic context that helps elevate the film beyond its “high school of misfit toys” premise.

It’s an enjoyable effort. In spite of a number of elements and concepts that feel a touch overused in the indie world, “Perks” stands out as a worthy dramatic watch.


37 thoughts on “The Perks of Being a Wallflower

    • Yeah, I can see people getting enthused about it.

      I dont connect with the high school misfit outcasts well. I… tend to fit in easily, and sometimes it frustrates me watching characters like this. Especially when they’re used SO often. Seriously, this movie left me yearning for a movie about high school kids who think that high school is fun and have lots of friends. LOL

  1. “You wind up rooting for him to overcome his social ineptitudes and cheering for his small victories along the way.”
    That’s what I got out of it too, basically. The only thing holding it back in my opinion is the sheer amount of social issues involved. I understand that makes the film more interesting and meaningful and all, but it almost made me ashamed of trying to relate to the characters because my life in high school didn’t suck that bad.

    • Totally! As I was saying to T, above, I get really frustrated sometimes watching these movies about high school losers and stuff. Not because its not a valid high school experience… a lot of kids are like that, its just that not ALL kids are like that, yet these “misfit” kids wind up the focus of like 90% of all the movies. LOL. Probably because so many loser kids grow up to be writers. 😀

      • It’s not the having no friends thing that I can’t relate to… AND THEY WERE ALL FRIENDS IN THIS MOVIE SO I DON’T WHAT THEY WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT… (in the beginning he had no friends obviously, but he found some so his other issues took prominence then I think) What annoyed me more was everybody having so many other issues. I didn’t fit in in high school, I’ll be the first to admit, but it’s not because I got abused, or any other such thing, just because I didn’t fit in. I understand why they can’t just show loser kids in high school being loser kids because it’s boring, but that’s what I would relate to honestly. If they just had a couple social issues I would be able to deal. Like just suicide. Ok I can handle that. But they just kept piling ’em on in this one, and maybe some people’s lives suck that much, but not that many to my knowledge.
        Ferris Bueller was pretty popular. “They all love him. They think he’s a righteous dude.” Of course then you have Cam to balance out. Better example from my standpoint because though he has problems, he doesn’t have every single possible problem that a teenager could have.

      • Cameron Frye and Ferris Bueller belong on the Mount Rushmore of movie characters, as far as I’m concerned.

        And I hear you, but I think without the issues here, this would have wound up a very bland movie (as you note). 😦

  2. Nice review Fogs, I really enjoyed this one. I thought all three central performances were very good, Lerman and Miller in particular and I thought there was enough there to make it stand out from usual coming of age dramas. However, there’s no way such good looking teens would be so unpopular 🙂

    • Emma Watson at least, right? Hah.

      Anyways, yeah, I thought they all did a good job, but I dont know that any of them would qualify for like acting nominations or anything. But they were all pretty good.

  3. Good write-up Fogs. I’m with Mark on this one. All the trailers have made me feel this is going to be overwhelmingly twee, which just irritates me. If I can be convinced otherwise then I’ll give it a fair crack of the whip, but I’m not holding my breath. And what was that about not recognising Heroes? What kind of education are these kids getting?!

    • I’m happy and proud of the circle of people I run with for voicing that complaint twice, when I was mentally rebelling against it everytime that played. Thank you, Ryan! 😀 And this was set in the 90s, too! I mean, maybe now… 20 years additionally removed from Bowie’s prime, there might be a better excuse. But mid 90s? Not to know who David Bowie is? Cmonnnnnnnn… LOL

      I should have worked that WTF into my review. You dumb asses dont know “Heroes”? WTF!!? 😀

  4. One of my favorite movies of the year just because of how much it made me feel and how much it made me miss the hell out of high school. Granted, I never had a friend that was a girl, who looked like Emma Watson, but damn, that would have been a great way to spend 4 years, wouldn’t it have? Lol. Nice review my man. Glad you at least got it done before the year came to an end.

    • Yeah, had to check it out. Finally opened up near where I live. I’m not exactly on the front lines of release dates here, you know? LOL

      I can see how people would connect to this and thus rate it more highly than I did… I actually debated the A-, but decided to play it safe. 🙂

    • So many people had been talking about it/recommending it to me that I dont know that I was surprised it was good. But I bet if I had gone to see it just based off of the trailers withoutu hearing about it from others first (as I usually do) I’d have been surprised, too! 😀

  5. The idea of misfits who don’t fit in, might be considered a cliché, but the way it’s handled is most definitely not a cliché. This was an audacious, beautifully acted and heartfelt ode to adolescence. Quite possibly, the greatest movie of the entire year. I still haven’t decided where it will fall within my Top 10, but it WILL be in my Top 10. Glad you enjoyed it.

    • Yeah, I enjoyed it… dont know if I could shower all of that praise on it, though.

      It was certainly good and certainly was able to separate itself from the typical teen angst movie crowd. Glad you liked it Mark.

  6. Glad that you were able to see this one, buddy. I really enjoyed it overall, a pretty strong contender for my top ten list this year. But yeah, I see I’m not alone on wondering how the hell those kids didn’t recognize David Bowie. That bugged me enough to mention it in my review 😀

    Still, it’s especially impressive that Chbosky wrote the novel, wrote the screenplay AND directed the film. Amazing stuff right there.

    • LOL. Yes! Another person on the WTF?! Its DAVID BOWIE! bandwagon. 😀 Hooray!

      Yeah I dont know if thats amazing or vain about Chbosky. Its kind of like Peter Berg and Friday Night Lights. Which has seen some great moments, but I wonder if he should let it go… although, if that means we’re gonna get Battleship, maybe he should go back! 😀

      • Yeah, I think it could definitely go both ways. But it’s impressive that Chbosky was able to do all of that on his own, and do it well.

  7. Egads, another teen movie. I should sit down one day and determine if teen movies are, in fact, my least favorite genre of film. Just might be. Which is interesting considering how much I love movies that are generally considered “children’s” movies.

    I don’t know if I can work up the desire to see it, even with your review. How would you say it compares to Chronicle? Now *that* movie did it right; those guys seemed genuine.

    • LOL! I know you havent seen this, so… but this movie and Chronicle are about a million miles apart from each other. 😀

      I guess if youre getting at, “Are these teens realistic?” then yeah, they do a pretty good job here, although as mentioned earlier, every has serious problems, you know? Not just teen “high school sucks” problems, but real “should I call the cops?” type problems.

      Thank you for the mental image of crossing this movie with Chronicle though. I did enjoy a smirk thinking about these three kids with super powers. LOL!

  8. Pingback: Blogger Interview: Fogs’ Movie Reviews | Rorschach Reviews

    • It’s still not clear to me. LOL

      Obviously, the author (who happens to also be the director) thought it was a clever turn of a phrase, looking on the bright side of his social ineptitudes. At least he didn’t have to be an asshole like the “popular” kids, and he found the relationships he (or at least his characters) had with other socially challenged individuals were deeper and more meaningful that the superficiality that they presume is inherent in people who are better adjusted. LOL

      That’s my take on it. 😀

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