The truest essence of this film can be stirred up from the angsty sediment in the YouTube comments section for its trailer. Here in the stinky, putrid underpinnings of the Web, pubescent humans from around the globe gather to howl through their keyboards with such thoughtful remarks as, "Emma Watson Y U SO HOT?" and "Oh God I'm crying already lol," and most pointedly, "HOLY FUCK I CAN'T HOLD BACKK MY EMOTIONS AHHHHHH FUCKING YES."
Precisely. This teen movie, like most teen movies, harvests the raw power of adolescent passion in all its sloppy, horny glory to craft a cinematic confection that reflects, interprets and glorifies the universally shared experience of being a teenager. In this rendition, Charlie, a lonely, gazellelike high-school freshman, played by the inappropriately handsome Logan Lerman, fumbles his way into that rare circle of upperclassmen mature enough to be kind to him but reckless enough to get him wasted. Among his newfound crew of misfit seniors is Sam (Emma Watson), an outcast indie goddess with whom Charlie predictably, hopelessly, falls in love, and Patrick (Ezra Miller), Sam's histrionic yet lovable half-brother.
The trio proceeds to engage in a series of typical adolescent shenanigans and, of course, comes to life-altering realizations like, "We accept the love we think we deserve." This line would be insufferable were it not delivered by Paul Rudd, who plays the Understanding English Teacher and friend to all weirdos.
In fact, a slew of other clichéd and contrived teen-movie moments unrelated to Rudd's sweater-vested performance somehow manage to eschew their intrinsic cheesiness and sound fresh. Perhaps it's because, while such flicks typically stick to a certain level of fluff, Wallflower finds a way to come across as deeply, disarmingly sincere. Stephen Chbosky, who authored the titular book, also adapted his epistolary novel into a screenplay and directed the film as well. So it must be his prolonged closeness not only to the story but to each of its characters that allows him to craft something so endearing and intimate. Wallflower is wild, hormonal and hyperbolically emotional, a well-calibrated film incarnation of an actual teenage life. It's kind of perfect, actually. PG-13.
Critic's Grade: A
SEE IT: Perks of Being a Wallflower opens Friday at Bridgeport.