‘Love, Simon’ a solid venture into LGBTQ teen rom-coms

“Love, Simon” has huge significance as the first widely-distributed LGBTQ teen romantic comedy films, the start of a potentially new wave of LGBTQ mainstream representation in the film industry.

But does it live up the expectations as a film? In short, while it has the idealized sheen of a Hollywood film, yes. “Love, Simon” is a solid film that portrays the awkward and turbulent period of adolescence and self-discovery, without being overly sentimental.

“Love, Simon” tells the story of Simon Speer, played by Nick Robinson, a closeted gay teenager who came across a confession post on social media by “Blue,” a student at his high school in a similar situation. What starts as an email from Simon to Blue about his similar experience turns into a supportive friendship between the two, and in Simon’s case, love.

However, due to Simon forgetting to log out of his throwaway email on a library computer (how could you forget to do that?) Simon is blackmailed by a fellow student, Martin, played by Logan Miller, and is threatened with being outed if he doesn’t help Martin get together with one of his friends, Abby, played by Alexandra Shipp.

While Simon’s parents, played by Josh Duhamel and Jennifer Garner, play the stereotypical “perfect couple” that is even noted by Simon as cliché, they are supportive and quite progressive parents and their relationship is one of the high points of the movie.

The film’s honest portrayal of the painful awkwardness of adolescence — I mean that, there are some really awkward scenes — is another strong point of the film. It subverts the “perfect high school life” trope that is often seen in teen romantic comedies. For the more easily embarrassed viewers, expect to feel a lot of secondhand cringe that may hit a little too close to home.

While “Love, Simon” has many strong points, it certainly has its shortcomings. In particular, some of the comedy is poorly placed and really destroys some of the seriousness of certain scenes. One notable example is a scene in the vice principal’s office. While one could say that the vice principal plays the bumbling, incompetent and ignorant authority figure, the jokes in that scene really deflate the significance of academic discipline when it comes to preventing LGBTQ bullying among students.

Simon’s friends, while supportive and funny, also have a shallow quality to them. Nick, played by Jorge Lendeborg Jr., has virtually no character development and is little more than a rival and obstacle to Martin for the affections of Abby, a point that feels like Nick has wasted potential as a supporting character.

There are some flaws to the film, but “Love, Simon” is a generally satisfying foray into LGBTQ representation into the mainstream. Hopefully the success of “Love, Simon” will open up more film studios to creating films with similar premises.

Overall, while “Love, Simon” isn’t perfect, it exceeds expectations as a teen romantic comedy and manages to be a heartwarming and thoughtful story of coming-of-age and young love.