Love, Simon (2018) Review 

Love, Simon (2018)

Directed by Greg Berlanti

Based on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Starring: Nick Robinson, Bryson Pitts, Nye Reynolds, Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr, Keiynan Lonsdale, Miles Heizer, Logan Miller, Talitha Bateman, Skye Mowbray, Tony Hale, Natasha Rothwell, Drew Starkey, Clark Moore, Joey Pollari, Mackenzie Lintz

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Simon Spier keeps a huge secret from his family, his friends, and all of his classmates: he’s gay. When that secret is threatened, Simon must face everyone and come to terms with his identity.

My Opinion:

I recently read the YA novel this movie is based on (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – review HERE). I enjoyed the book and would say it’s one of the better YA romances I’ve read recently so was looking forward to seeing how well they did with the movie adaptation (even though romance isn’t really my thing). I have to say that this is one of the rare occasions where the movie is possibly slightly better than the book. It’s close.

They did change quite a few details from the book, which doesn’t always work for people who want to see the story in the exact same way. For example: They added more humor to the movie (a lot of this via a vice principal who didn’t exist in the novel) and Simon has only one instead of two sisters. The changes don’t negatively affect the overall story, though. Simon still feels like the same character from the book and the romance still works well. Actually, Simon feels a little more “real” in the film. His internal struggle is also somehow more apparent and believable in the movie. I think Nick Robinson has done a good job with Simon as it’s not often that a movie character feels slightly more fleshed out than the book character. His family also feel closer in the movie and I liked that they spent plenty of time focusing on his relationship with his them as well as with his friends.

I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to anyone who likes a good teen book and/or movie. If you’re a reader, I definitely recommend reading the book and then watching the movie. There are enough changes that it’s worth knowing both stories. Overall, the film is slightly better and the characters feel more realistic but I far prefer the ending in the book. I’ll of course avoid spoilers but the film adds a little too much drama to a final scene, making me prefer the more likely scenario in the book. This scene was the only time the film felt a little false, though. Overall, the topic is handled very well. The movie uses humor and sensitivity and thankfully never goes over the top on drama. Being from the John Hughes generation, I can’t say I’m going to be able to fully relate to a modern teen movie but I’m glad that current teens have films like Love, Simon. It’s a good film with enjoyable characters and I’m sure it’ll be a favorite for many current teens. Judging by its 8.1 rating on IMDb, it seems to be a favorite already.

My Rating: 7/10

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Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli & Every Day by David Levithan (Book Reviews)

I recently posted mini-reviews of these books in my March Roundup of all that I watched & read last month. I’m posting these same reviews again as Love, Simon is now out in UK cinemas and Every Day has a release date of April 20th.

Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

The movie adaptation of this (Love, Simon) came out in UK cinemas last Friday. This is a YA book (yeah, I do like YA books) and it’s one of the better ones I’ve read in this genre in the past few years. I’m not normally one for YA “romance” (give me the apocalyptic stuff!) but this one was done well and I really bought into this relationship. In the book, Simon is a gay high school student who connects with then starts an anonymous online relationship with another student at his school. I’ve never wanted a couple to get together so bad! The boy Simon talks to is extremely protective of his identity and Simon struggles with this as he wants to meet the boy he’s fallen in love with. I was like “Tell him who you are!!” (you, the reader, aren’t aware of his identity either). Beyond that, there’s not much to say about this book as it’s a fairly typical YA romance. But it’s a good one. I can’t wait to see the movie, which has had excellent reviews. I’ve even heard rumors of it having a John Hughes vibe?! Sounds good to me!

My Rating: 4/5

Every Day by David Levithan

This is a book that I read because, like Mortal Engines (mini-review HERE), I loved the original concept. It’s hard to find stories that feel unique. And, again, it’s a YA romance (Ugh. Sorry!). Here’s the synopsis from Amazon: “Each morning, A wakes up in a different body. There’s never any warning about who it will be, but A is used to that. Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere. And that’s fine – until A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with – every day . . .” The story does feel truly original and I really appreciated that. However, I just didn’t quite connect with the characters. A, who switches bodies every single day, was very interesting as you get some insight into the mind of someone who doesn’t define themselves by their body, gender, family, friends, etc. since these things change every single day. As I said, it’s a great concept but the book is just okay. I didn’t find myself caring as much about these characters as I’d have liked. This also has a movie adaptation coming out this month, but the reviews are meh. I’ll still watch it to see how they handle the story, though.

My Rating: 3/5

Here are the trailers for the movies:

Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014) Review

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Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (2014)

Directed by Miguel Arteta

Based on Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst

Starring:
Steve Carell
Jennifer Garner
Ed Oxenbould
Dylan Minnette
Kerris Dorsey
Bella Thorne
Elise & Zoey Vargas
Sidney Fullmer
Megan Mullally
Jennifer Coolidge
Dick Van Dyke

Running time: 82 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. Though he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother, and sister all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

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My Opinion:

Well, what can I say about this one? It’s a family movie aimed at kids. I thought it did a good job keeping various ages in mind (probably starting around age 7 or 8 & up) and I don’t think the parents who take their kids to this one will hate it or anything. I even think non-grumpy teens wouldn’t mind it as there’s a teenage brother (if there’s such a thing as a non-grumpy teen?). Sometimes the animated thing can be a little boring so you almost feel like you’re watching a “proper movie” at least when you start watching some live action stuff with your kid.

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I enjoyed this one just fine as a wholesome “family” movie. I didn’t know the story at all so don’t know how closely it follows the book. What I liked is that you see a day in the life of each family member so you get each of their stories as they each have their own “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day”. Being the age of the parents I of course liked their stories, especially Jennifer Garner’s book publishing fiasco (with a visit from Dick Van Dyke. Chim Chim Cher-ee!). The title character, Alexander, is just turning 12 so you have the story of his birthday party drama as well as his teenage brother’s prom drama, his older sister’s school play drama, and both his parents and their separate work dramas.

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It’s of course a little “silly” at times but not to the point that I found it at all irritating, which is more than I can say for a lot of kids’ films. The kids felt “real” as opposed to some perfect-looking actors and the family felt like a realistic, loving family plus they didn’t bicker in obnoxious ways (which is far too common in some family movies and always gets on my nerves). Jennifer Coolidge has a small role as the teenage brother’s driving instructor. She may be a “love her or hate her” but I love her – she always cracks me up! Steve Carell is also not to everyone’s taste but I don’t think anyone would mind him in this – he plays it straight. OH! And the baby “brother” is played by the same set of twin girls who played the baby girl in Bad Neighbours (aka Neighbors). Most adorable babies EVER.

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Summary:

This is a perfectly fine wholesome family film that’s actually pretty fun and has something for everyone as there are characters of varying ages with each of their own storylines. Even Jennifer Garner’s character using the word “penis” was still wholesome (and one of the funniest bits! but that may just be me showing my maturity level). I saw a few negative “critic” reviews but, seriously – lighten up grumpy butts! What do they expect – The Godfather for kids? Sometimes you wonder if certain adults were ever kids themselves. This movie is what it is and I consider it a perfectly acceptable form of simple family entertainment that isn’t too preachy or too stupid – it’s just meant to be fun.

My Rating: 6/10

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013) Review

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Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Starring:
Matthew McConaughey
Jennifer Garner
Jared Leto
Steve Zahn
Dallas Roberts
Michael O’Neill
Denis O’Hare
Griffin Dunne
John Tabler
Jane McNeill
James DuMont

Running time: 116 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Matthew McConaughey stars as AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, distributing them to fellow sufferers by establishing the eponymous “Dallas Buyers Club” whilst facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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My Opinion:

Matthew McConaughey… I watched & reviewed Mud recently & commented that I’ve never really been a fan of his (other than in Dazed & Confused – he’s hilariously pervy in that). I didn’t LOVE him in Mud but did like that it was a different sort of role to what I’ve seen him do before. Then I saw him in The Wolf Of Wall Street and thought he was great (although we’ve kind of seen him play that smarmy sort of guy before). Well, McConaughey is finally growing on me after Dallas Buyers Club. I really liked him in it & really enjoyed the movie. And since seeing this movie, I’ve also watched the first episode of True Detective. I don’t love the show quite yet (sorry, Eric!) but it seems to have potential & McConaughey is clearly the one to watch. The main reason I’ll be watching a few more episodes will be to see how they develop his character.

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As for this movie, I’ve not looked into how accurate it is compared to the true story but it’s the type of story that’s perfect for a Hollywood adaptation so I can see why it was done. It was fascinating to watch the story unfold. It does go a bit “Hollywood” at times but, hey, what doesn’t? It’s a gritty and a serious subject matter but has great characters & relationships and you can’t help but want a happy Hollywood ending even though you know that’s not going to be the case here. The movie doesn’t focus TOO heavily on all the issues and failures of the FDA (which was fine by me). I think it strikes a good balance between telling us the story & focusing on developing the characters, which is usually just as important (if not more important to me) than a film’s story. McConaughey & Leto are both very good and I think deserving of their Oscar nominations (particularly McConaughey) although wins probably aren’t likely against others nominated. Seriously, though – How many times do I have to type McConaughey before my iPhone recognizes it?! I hope it’s by the time I review Bernie.

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Summary:

Keeping this short as I’ve gotten lazy fallen very behind on writing my own reviews since all the great IMDB guest reviews that have been pouring in. Dallas Buyers Club has a very interesting story with well developed characters and some Oscar worthy acting. You can’t really ask for much more. It’s a solid movie and I’m glad I saw it. It’s also yet another best picture Oscar nominee that’s better than American Hustle. (I still have five more of those to watch before the Oscars – I better hurry!)

My Rating: 8/10

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