Overview: Stephen Chbosky directed this film adaptation of his 1999 epistolary novel of the same title. The movie, like the book, focuses on and is narrated by a shy freshman who is socially adopted by two free-spirited seniors. 2012; Summit Entertainment; Rated PG-13; 102 minutes.
Why This Review is Difficult: This is a teen drama. I reminded myself of that throughout the viewing because I realize I am probably not the target audience. So, I instructed myself, I should modify my perception and opinion accordingly. However, a movie’s genre/impulse should not be exclusionary. From Say Anything to The Spectacular Now, great teen dramas have proven enjoyable to all age groups, just exceptionally so to their targets. I was prepared for a movie in which teens believe that whatever they are currently going through is the most important thing that will ever happen. That is normal for teen movies because it is normal of real-life teens. However…
I Hate This Movie Because: It agrees with that sentiment! This movie comes across as convinced that the most important things that will ever happen to its characters are the things that are happening to them in high school. In the earlier cited examples of great teen movies (Say Anything, The Spectacular Now), we are offered characters who labor under the same misconception—that what is now is the most important thing—but these movies treat this with a degree of corrective truth (both Lloyd Dobler and Sutter Keely grow to understand a need to prepare for what the future demands of them). I understand that exceptionally terrible things happen to the kids in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (molestation, the suicide of friends, self-mutilation, discrimination) and these things deserve sympathy, which I might have readily offered, except…
The Part That Makes Me Feel Really Guilty: I hate these kids. I am a 30 year old man and my mouth fills with bile at the thought of these teenagers. I even hated Emma Watson in this movie! How can Emma Watson be hated?! Yet, had I went to high school with her and her insufferably pretentious friends, I would have dropped out and went to work at a saw mill. And you know what? Some of the kids in my high school actually did that. That’s hardship, you sniveling little bitches. They didn’t get a cool hipster soundtrack to supplement their existence when they slaved it out on the daily grind, either. They didn’t have time for mix tape-scored sulking.
How This Movie Could Have Been Improved: Get rid of the title. Go to a different city. Get rid of all the characters. Restart from the beginning. Well, keep Ezra Miller. He’s actually a pretty fantastic actor.
Final Note: If you are out of your teens and you still have a tunnel song, consider yourself formally uninvited to all of my social events.