Love, Simon UHD Review

Charming, funny, important and endearing 4 Stars

Love, Simon is charming, sweet, fun and playful even while it deals with a supremely important subject of coming out. There is meaningful drama nestled amongst the playfulness, and while the film explores an intimate and important subject, it does so in a lighthearted way that doesn’t diminish the impact or importance of the central journey Simon undertakes.

Love, Simon (2018)
Released: 16 Mar 2018
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 110 min
Director: Greg Berlanti
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Cast: Nick Robinson, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Katherine Langford
Writer(s): Elizabeth Berger (screenplay by), Isaac Aptaker (screenplay by), Becky Albertalli (based upon the novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda" by)
Plot: 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.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 72

Disc Information
Studio: Fox
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG-13
Run Time: X Hr. X Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: Standard with Slip Sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 06/12/2018
MSRP: $24.96

The Production: 4/5

“I knew you had a secret. When you were little, you were so carefree. But these last few years, more and more, it almost like I can feel you holding your breath. I wanted to ask you about it, but I didn’t want to pry. Maybe I made a mistake.”

High school can be tough, but for Simon, it’s even tougher. Simon has a secret he has been hiding from his loving family and his closest friends. That secret? Simon is gay, but he isn’t ready to let the world know yet. The only person he has told, through anonymous email correspondence, is ‘Blue,’ someone he found though on a social media space used by many in his school. The emails he shares with Blue, connecting over the same fears and worries about coming out, help build a strong sense of trust and intimacy. When someone discovers and steals his private emails and threatens to expose his anonymous correspondence with Blue to the entire school on a site called CreekSecrets, Simon finds he will do the unthinkable to protect his secret, and protect Blue.

Love, Simon is charming, sweet, fun and playful even while it deals with a supremely important subject of coming out. There is meaningful drama nestled amongst the playfulness, and while the film explores an intimate and important subject, it does so in a lighthearted way that doesn’t diminish the impact or importance of the central journey Simon undertakes.

Love, Simon doesn’t exist in the real world. It exists in the safer confines of ‘the movies’, absent often the darker and more brutal realities of life faced by those going through similar journeys to Simon. So, while the film tackles the sensitive matter of coming out to family and friends, touching on the fear and agonizing about how others will react and how their lives will change, it does so with a John Hughes-style approach. John Hughes, highly regarded for the films he wrote and some of which he also directed, spoke to a generation of kids and teenagers going through versions of what he explored in his films. What he covered wasn’t an accurate reflection of the grittier realities of social circle struggles and divides (The Breakfast Club), or the evolution from teen to womanhood (Sixteen Candles). Instead, they were approachable entryways into those subjects for broader audiences. And that is how I see Love, Simon.

Director Greg Berlanti, working from a screenplay by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker (based on Becky Albertalli’s book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) delivers a playful, warm affair with a likeable cast. Nick Robinson, who appeared in 2015’s Jurassic World, plays the titular Simon. He plays the role sympathetic, exuding and understated charm but forthright likeability that makes him a compelling character. His character is surrounded by kind, happy friends played by a collection of very good actors, including his best friend, Leah (Katherine Langford), Nick (Jorge Lendeborg, Jr.), and Abby (Alexandre Shipp). The antagonist of the film, Martin, played well by Logan Miller, manages to be sympathetic and annoying, villainous and tragic all at once. Simon’s loving parents are played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel, who may seem too perfect as parents, but play their roles with some needed flaws when the times comes. Other supporting players, such as Natasha Rothwell as the drama teacher, Ms. Albright, and Tony Hale, as the oblivious Vice Principle (a character invented for the film), layer in more comedic moments–with Rothwell stealing every scene in which she appears.

The film is careful to weave in multiple characters facing their own version of high school awkwardness, from shyness born of sexual inexperience to love unrequited, acknowledging that in all our own ways, we face internalized doubt and social fear. However, it is Simon’s bumpy road to coming out where Love, Simon is most successful. We all recognize that not all families will be as accepting, schools as open, or friends as ultimately supportive, but watching Simon as he explores his feelings, and what it all means, through his correspondence to ‘Blue,’ becomes a powerful proxy for the internalization that many, but not all, closeted souls must feel too.

The film’s most powerful moment, and I will warn that this next sentence is a spoiler, comes when Simon snaps back at Martin, the boy who leaked his private emails to the public message board; the boy who outed him. Simon yells at him for taking away his choice for when and how to come out. He verbally unloads for stealing something that was for him and him alone. I found it to be the film’s most potent and emotionally charged moment.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Love, Simon is a handsome production, with warm colors, pops of orange and yellow, presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Colors are all a little richer thanks to the HDR grading, and the extra level of detail in fabric, skin and hair clarity give this 4K UHD release an edge over the Blu-ray release. The red on Abby’s jacket during the opening introductions, the yellow of the school buses, the purple of Simon’s t-shirt (and later, Martin’s purple Caddyshack t-shirt), all positively pop off the screen. Love, Simon isn’t filmed in a way designed to blow your socks off, but the detail afforded this 4K release and the nice layer of HDR, the film looks terrific on UHD

Audio: 4.5/5

Fox delivers Love, Simon on 4K UHD with a solid DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that serves the film nicely. The 80s nature of the soundtrack certainly helps recall the John Hughes feel, and when the tunes pick up, the surrounds come more alive. Crowd sounds do well in the surrounds as well. This isn’t a knock-out audio, but the use of songs is served very well by the audio and dialogue is nicely balanced, crisp and clear focused in the center channel.

Special Features: 3/5

One star for the utter lack of extras on the UHD disc, which only has the audio commentary. The rest of the special features can be found on the included Blu-ray version of the film.

The audio commentary is interesting, certainly welcome to fans of the film. The rest of the special features are short, low-depth affairs, including some deleted scenes, cast and crew talking about adapting the source book, a look at the filming locations, and the #FirstLoveStory Contest Winner short film.

  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Adaptation
  • The Squad
  • #FirstLoveStory Contest Winner
  • Dear Georgia
  • Dear Atlanta
  • Commentary
  • Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailers

Overall: 4/5

Coming of age stories come in many shapes and sizes, but what is remarkable about the decidedly mainstream Love, Simon, is that it joyfully expands that commercial canvas to include a gay teen’s journey in coming of age (and coming out, and coming to realize he’s in love). My goodness, we need more of this in the mix of films offered. The default for characters in film is usually straight and white. However, that isn’t the world we live in (certainly not the world I live in). So, while Love, Simon, which was commercially popular and critically well-received, is an important addition, we need more. We need a much wider array of stories and genres that just happen to feature gay characters. We need more romantic comedies, more thrillers, heck, we need more films about dinosaurs and aliens and war and time travel and terrorist skyscraper takeovers, with a central action character that just happens to be gay. That is what I want to see more of, in addition to the more real and intimately dramatic films about gay men and women, like Blue is the Warmest Color, God’s Own Country, My Beautiful Launderette, and The Long Day Closes.

I found myself swept up in the lighthearted and charming nature of Love, Simon. It is brisk and playful, deceptively important, and ultimately a refreshing expansion of the familiar teen lovelorn tropes. Recommended.

https://smile.amazon.com/Love-Simon-Blu-ray-Nick-Robinson/dp/B079P9BWH3/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530492170&sr=8-1&keywords=Love%2C+Simon+4k

Published by

Neil Middlemiss

editor,member

14 Comments

  1. Neil,

    This is a terrific review! I completely agree on most counts including all but the commentary track and the behind the scenes that include the author of the young adult novel.

    As someone who was closeted in 1983 and works with 20 somethings in an urban setting, I found it hard to connect to Simon’s struggle until it clicked that SPOILER
    Sinon isn’t that worried about being outed, but Simon is desperate to keep his relationship with Blue going, it is the one place he has found himself not holding his breath, and he knows that will end if their communications are exposed.

    .

    Thanks again!

  2. Neil,

    This is a terrific review! I completely agree on most counts including all but the commentary track and the behind the scenes that include the author of the young adult novel feel very "made as a promo-reel" shallow.

    As someone who was closeted in 1983 and works with 20 somethings in an urban setting, I found it hard to connect to Simon’s struggle until it clicked that

    Spoiler

    .

    Within that prism, I understand his actions. The deleted scenes are okay, but I am glad they were deleted.

    Thanks again!

  3. I thought it was well done, but it didn't have anywhere near the emotional impact on me that Latter Days or Brokeback Mountain or God's Own Country or Call Me By Your Name or Man in An Orange Shirt or the French feature Hidden Kisses did. All very highly recommended.

  4. I agree, great review Neil!

    Mark-W

    The deleted scenes are okay, but I am glad they were deleted.

    See Mark, I LOVED the deleted scene set in Simon's first trip to a gay bar and the family "confrontation" that followed. I wish we could have "seen" it in the body of the film but it's obvious that its tone disrupts the emotional arc they were trying to achieve after Simon's outing so I can certainly understand why it had to go (and let's face it, the movie is long enough as it is!)

    Big Gay Andy

    I thought it was well done, but it didn't have anywhere near the emotional impact on me that Latter Days or Brokeback Mountain or God's Own Country or Call Me By Your Name or Man in An Orange Shirt or the French feature Hidden Kisses did. All very highly recommended.

    In fairness Andy, and welcome to HTF by the way, I don't know that it's necessarily a film for "us." It DOES lack the emotional impact of other gay films that have come down the pike, films that carry with them the weight of emotion that many of us have survived and endured, but I think that "John Hughes fantasy" on display here is entirely intentional. It's a film for a new generation that doesn't have our hangups and is ready for a silly little romantic comedy that ISN'T earth shaking in terms of the story its telling.

    My friend Jeff (also gay) has a 14 year old gay nephew from Texas (out at 14!! Texas!! My mind reels!) who is visiting and the whole family went to a local amusement park the other day. This kid took a picture of the ferris wheel and posted it to Instagram (which he isn't supposed to even "have" by the way) with the caption "Still waiting for blue." It struck me that this movie is going to be a cultural touchpoint for an entirely new generation of gaylings growing up without the stigma of the past. I can't help but feel it's the symbol of a good thing.

  5. "Gaylings" — I love it!!!

    By the way, when I was a gayling myself, I came out to my parents when I was 12!!! They didn't take it too well — especially considering that I told them less than a month before my Bar Mitzvah!!! And this was way back in 1975!!!

  6. Big Gay Andy

    "Gaylings" — I love it!!!

    By the way, when I was a gayling myself, I came out to my parents when I was 12!!! They didn't take it too well — especially considering that I told them less than a month before my Bar Mitzvah!!! And this was way back in 1975!!!

    I BOW TO YOU, SIR!!!

  7. Big Gay Andy

    I thought it was well done, but it didn't have anywhere near the emotional impact on me that Latter Days or Brokeback Mountain or God's Own Country or Call Me By Your Name or Man in An Orange Shirt or the French feature Hidden Kisses did. All very highly recommended.

    Will Krupp

    I agree, great review Neil!

    See Mark, I LOVED the deleted scene set in Simon's first trip to a gay bar and the family "confrontation" that followed. I wish we could have "seen" it in the body of the film but it's obvious that its tone disrupts the emotional arc they were trying to achieve after Simon's outing so I can certainly understand why it had to go (and let's face it, the movie is long enough as it is!)

    In fairness Andy, and welcome to HTF by the way, I don't know that it's necessarily a film for "us." It DOES lack the emotional impact of other gay films that have come down the pike, films that carry with them the weight of emotion that many of us have survived and endured, but I think the light "John Hughes fantasy" on display here is entirely intentional. It's a film for a new generation that doesn't have our hangups and is ready for a silly little romantic comedy that ISN'T earth shaking in terms of the story its telling.

    A very dear friend of mine (also gay) has a 14 year old gay nephew visiting from Texas (out at 14!! Texas!! My mind reels!) and the whole family went to a local amusement park the other day. This kid took a picture of the ferris wheel and posted it to Instagram (which he isn't supposed to even "have" by the way) with the caption "Still waiting for blue." It struck me that this movie is going to be a cultural touchpoint for an entirely new generation of gaylings growing up without the stigma of the past. I can't help but feel it's the symbol of a good thing.

    Another beautifully written response, Will.

    I would like to say, too, Welcome Big Gay Andy!

    Another gay-centric, set-during-high-school-years film is Being 17, which I would highly recommend. It has a lot to say about family, race, maleness and little, if anything, to say about being a teenager. It has elements it shares with several of the films you mentioned.

    As Will said, and I agree, Love, Simon has a very specifical goal of being a mainstream teenage rom-com deliberately in the John Hughes manner, and it succeeds beyond my expectations on that level. It made lots of money and even critics are hoping it helps teenage rom coms move past the teen-with-terminal-illness-romances that have been a thing now since The Fault in our Stars.

    The tension in Love, Simon is not "What would happen if he is outed?" It is "Who is Blue and will he and Simon end up together?" It starts with the operating assumption that being gay is acceptable, and homophobia should not be tolerated and those that engage in it are seen as losers. That is fresh and far from where John Hughes films placed us.

    I saw Love, Simon twice theatrically, once a week before it opened in a special preview showing, and then again about six weeks later, both times in the deep suburbs heavily populated with soccer moms. Both times the audiences I saw it with was mostly straight, lots of teenage girls and the aforementioned moms, and both times the audience, to my surprise, clapped when it was over. There was a gaggle of what appeared to be soccer moms sitting directly in front me at my second screening, and the one on the left end turned to the other three as the credits were rolling and said, "That was so wonderful! Best movie I have seen in a while."

    I would have loved the same kind of reaction to Call Me By Your Name, but CMBYN was never going to be mainstream and it was not designed to be.

    What is amazing, is that unlike Philadelphia, as an LGBT person, I did not feel estranged from Love, Simon the way I and my friends felt, which I remember most vividly as we left the premier showing of that Tom Hanks film. "That wasn't for us," my friend Matthew quipped afterward. Exactly. It was designed to have the audience identify with Denzel Washington's character as he moves from homophobic to cautiously-accepting of gay people at the end of the film as we watch that guy we liked from Sleepless in Seattle die in a sanitized portrayal of a gay person which none of my friends recognized themselves in.

    I cannot tell you all the hundreds of reasons why I left the theater feeling included by Love, Simon and excluded by Philadelphia. I can say, that I love now, that the actor that plays Blue is out as bisexual and has a great song he sings (available on Amazon) about needing to kiss another fella, and I love that I have another movie that fills me with happiness as I watch it and a lite film to watch in my LGBT film library that has, frankly, too many films about death, dying, struggle and pain. (And there are a plethora of poorly-made LGBT rom-coms with bad acting, bad scripts, that are borderline painful to watch even as we try to love them with their deficiencies because they are about us and for us.)

    I love that the gaylings out there now, with Love, Simon have a film that made them visible and if they are black, gay, and fem, they are accepted, appreciated, and visible in a mainstream movie that they don't need their parents' permission to go see.

    Call Me By Your Name is a very special film, and one, that based on my actions, is one that has had a more profound impact on me than any other LGBT film ever, but, sometimes I want that Halloween, orange-colored Oreo and not a peach.

  8. Well said, Mark!!

    My feelings regarding PHILADELPHIA are well documented so I'll not beat a dead horse! (Though if there was ever a horse that deserved a good beating….)

    Mark-W

    I can say, that I love now, that the actor that plays Blue is out as bisexual and has a great song he sings (available on Amazon) about needing to kiss another fella, and I love that I have another movie that fills me with happiness as I watch it

    I did not know that, but it makes sense! That means that ALL of the actors playing the potential "blues" are out actors. I think they were trying to trick us with gay herrings!

    And, of course we can always dream, can't we?
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