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Construx Conspirators: Shane Jenkins - Perks of Being a Wallflower Review

9:00:00 AMPaul

This review is from our friend Shane Jenkins, lord of Ambler Theater and movie extraordinaire. I've begged him to write for us for a bit now and he finally caved in. Check out his site its pretty incredible with writing and music.

77. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

     May I pop-psychoanalyze myself before we get to the review? I love high school movies. I'm not terribly nostalgic for my own high school days or anything, so it's been a mystery to me for a while why I enjoy them so much. And I think I have an answer. Because, in addition to high school movies, I'm also very fond of films where people are stuck together for one
reason or another. Maybe they're stuck in a supermarket because there are giant mutated bugs outside. Or stuck in a mall because it is surrounded by zombies. Or in an elevator because one of them is the devil or some such thing. Anyway, high school is the ultimate stuck-together movie. If you really hate your job, you can quit. If your neighbors are unbearable, you can move. But if you're a kid in school, no matter how bad things are, you still gotta go back there every day and deal with all that shit. For years! Every day! And things WILL be terrible, because you're a teenager and haven't developed a protective emotional skin yet! So I think we've all learned from this that I'm a sociopath, who enjoys the angst-ridden torment of children.

     So, given my horrible fondness for the genre, I am pleased to report that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the good ones. I haven't read the book, but the characters feel three-dimensional, which was no doubt helped by the fact that the book's author also wrote and directed the film. Everybody is a little too old to be playing their roles (Logan Lerman is supposed to be 15?!), but it's easy to overlook that when the actors are so charming. Yes, even Emma Watson, so stiff in the Harry Potter movies, seems liberated here, shorn of her robes and perpetual worried look. And Ezra Miller, the Kevin that we need to talk about, is a charisma magnet here, as Emma's flamboyant half-brother. The movie is surprisingly funny -- even Dylan McDermott gets off a good line, and that guy sucks!

     Perks gets darker than I was expecting, based on the trailer, and that's a good thing. You feel for the characters so much, particularly Lerman's Charlie, that you just want them to be okay. And they're not always. These are some damaged kids, but their highs and lows feel believable and not too melodramatic for its own sake. One of the characters says at one point, "My life is an after-school special!" And it sort of is. But a really good one, and not one where Helen Hunt jumps out of a window after trying pot for the first time. Perks reminded me a little of Bret Easton Ellis's Less Than Zero, but smaller, quieter and more grounded in reality.

Grade: B+

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