By Hal Robison, E23 Reporter

Today, when a high school-centered teenage rom-com is coming out, there’s usually a standard pattern. A white, straight, usually awkward student wants to find love or is finally summoning the courage to ask that crush they’ve had for years to the big dance. This guy or girl is often followed around by their “funny minority sidekick,” or their best friend and the person they go to for everything. And through the ups and downs of unrequited love, awkward first dates or bad dance moves, the main character usually ends the movie with a newfound love. The guy finds a girlfriend; the girl finds a boyfriend. They all live happily ever after.

“Love, Simon” is going to change that.

Based on the 2015 book by Becky Albertalli published in 2015, “Love, Simon” is the first coming-of-age romantic comedy that features a gay romance to be released by a major film studio. The novel was originally called “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” which, while being my preferred title, would have been a little more difficult to market.

When Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) describes his life, he puts it like this: “For the most part, my life is totally normal.” He’s close with his parents (Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel) and younger sister Nora (Talitha Bateman). He’s involved in theater at school but isn’t great at it. He and his best friends all live in the same neighborhood, so they carpool to school together and buy perfect iced coffees every morning. (If the movie’s creators were trying to make Simon and his friends seem “normal and average,” that part might be a little bit of a stretch, but it’s cute and wholesome, so I’ll let it slide.)

But none of Simon’s friends, family or classmates know that he’s gay. When Simon learns there is another closeted gay student at his high school through an anonymous posting blog called “CreekSecrets” he’s ecstatic—and a little nervous. The post, detailing how isolating and difficult it is to hide your identity, resonates with Simon, and he begins emailing with the anonymous poster, who’s given himself the name “Blue.”

This movie, for me, has so much more depth than an average teen movie. Not only does Nick Robinson shine as Simon, but his friends and family are rounded, complex and representative of the world today. While Simon is the focus of the film, I loved the unique stories each of his friends (played by Katherine Langford, Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Alexandra Shipp) went through during the film too.

Simon is quick to point out that his family and friends would be accepting of his sexuality. They’re shown to be progressive; for example, his mom is shown painting a “Down with the Patriarchy” sign, and one of his friends dresses as “post-presidency Barack” for Halloween. Still, the process of actually coming out and the possibility of changing everyone’s perception of you is what makes it so terrifying for Simon.

Without being overly political, the movie clearly takes place in Trump’s America—a different world than when the book was originally written. President Obama was making progress on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community in the United States, and the political environment toward LGBTQ+ felt much more accepting.

The film is very modern, with little quips and jokes so small you might miss them, and that’s what makes it so enjoyable for me. Simon’s friends actually feel like real people, people that I knew and loved in high school. While it does, of course, feel like a teenage rom-com at times (there is a short, but fantastic, coordinated dance number that occurs inside Simon’s head and a few very quirky characters), it all comes together to tell an amazing story. It’s a story that needed to be told: nothing crazy or outlandish but a normal story. The story of a kid who just wants to fall in love.

And, just like Simon, I think you’ll fall in love too.

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