Love, Simon is about as sweet and funny and wonderful as a movie of its kind can get. It involves a closeted high school senior named Simon, whose secret is out to no one but himself—not even his goofy but well-meaning parents or his small nucleus of impossibly attractive friends. Smothered by the aloneness of his situation, Simon is stunned to discover that another teen who calls himself Blue has posted details of his similar experience on the high school’s public message board. Simon gathers up his nerve and strikes up a touching email friendship with Blue, even as their identities remain unknown to one another. When all is said and done, the movie will have hit on every possible teen comedy cliche in the book, including an obligatory feel-good resolution atop a ferris wheel, and done most of them proud. It may not be original, but Love, Simon has enormous heart.
Of course, a movie like this requires a central conflict for its protagonist. In Simon’s case, his biggest challenge isn’t how to come out to his family and friends, but a pestering theater nerd called Martin. One day while in the school library, Martin discovers Simon’s secret and blackmails him: if Simon sets him up with the pretty new girl, Abby, Martin won’t out Simon to the school. Obviously, Simon has no choice but to agree, right? On its surface, Martin’s machinations sound heartless and cruel, but believe me when I say things aren’t as simple as they seem. Simon and Martin end up entangling not only Abby, but Simon’s closest friends, Leah and Nick, in their Machiavellian scheme and no one emerges unscathed. (I’m giving nothing away by saying that Martin suffers a particularly crushing defeat at a football game.)
All the while, Simon continues his anonymous relationship with Blue, finding a sort of sanctuary in their exchanges. The two reveal their deepest secrets to one another, and in a rather touching moment, Blue tells Simon that their friendship inspired him to come out to his parents. Yes, Martin’s blackmail scheme threatens to ruin everything by scaring Blue away before he and Simon even have a chance to meet face to face; but romantic teen comedies are about happy endings, and Love, Simon doesn’t disappoint.
Which brings me to the ferris wheel. I dare you to not grin from ear to ear and perhaps wipe away a tear or two as Blue finally reveals his identity to Simon. It’s a lovely moment, full of heart, as the entire student body cheers them on. Have we seen this moment a thousand times before? Absolutely. But sometimes cliches are cliches because they work, and in Love, Simon they work about as well as one could expect. This is a movie that understands how teenagers think and feel about love and friendship and what it means to live your authentic life in the 21st century. John Hughes would have been proud.