Off-Brand Interval // A Review of Love, Simon

Okay. Let’s talk.

The amazing thing about this movie is that the humor is marketed entirely for queer people. Despite overwhelmingly good critical ratings, I think a lot of critical reviews skim over or don’t really notice how incredibly freaking hilarious this movie is, and that confused me upon first watch. But the second time I watched this, there were several jokes that were hilarious to me [and Kav] but not all that funny to the theater? No one understands humor except for us.

Something about this movie that I am not sure if I like is the tone problem. This is a movie that goes from a very offbeat but very funny romantic comedy to a really upsetting coming out movie in a very brief moment. That’s how the book is, too, but I think this movie gets the balance a little off. The book is a romance with a coming out story. The movie is a bit more a coming out story with a romance. And sure, coming out stories are important, but you know what’s revolutionary about Love Simon? That it isn’t just a coming out story, that it’s also a sweet teen movie for queer people. And I don’t know, I think just a little more Blue emailing would’ve made this movie so much better and made the romance just a bit more fulfilling.

But guys, as book-to-movie adaptations go, this was pretty fucking masterful. Hilarious, sweet, romantic, and so much more.

One of the main criticisms I’ve seen from people about this movie is on the idealism front, so I wanted to talk a little bit about that.

So, I think the portrayal of high school is mostly accurate. Simon deals with a little bit of open harassment and then a lot of weird looks, vaguely homophobic comments that are impossible to pinpoint, and general negativity, which is similar to my experience. Homophobia tends to be a bit more subtle nowadays, and I think the movie does an excellent job showing that.

On the idealism front, I think the point of the movie was to both be realistic about how coming out can sometimes be difficult – the harassment and the just a little bit distasteful jokes from his dad – but also not be tragic, hence the mostly accepting school.
The thing about queer cinema is that it tends to end tragically for the main couple. In media studies, we actually talk about the Bury Your Gays trope, in which all of the gay and bi characters die and all of the straight characters survive, and the Tragic Gays trope, in which a gay character simply spends their life suffering in a narrative where the straight characters are not suffering to the same degree. This trope occurs in much of queer cinema, even the few stories with happy endings, with origins in the purity limits of older audiences. The queer characters always had to be punished in the end in earlier cinema, but then cinema never outgrew that phase.
So in being a little more optimistic – and I’d argue the film is still pretty realistic – I think the film is trying to do something new. There has really never been a mainstream romcom OR a mainstream teen comedy with a gay lead. This movie is both, and in that way it’s revolutionary. It’s one of the only queer movies – the only mainstream movie, period – in which the leads don’t suffer.

11 thoughts on “Off-Brand Interval // A Review of Love, Simon

  1. It really bothers me that it’s being criticized for not being ‘realistic’ and the idealization. Meanwhile all the straights of the world can have unrealistic, ideal movies and no one blinks a bloody eye. Let a gay live, Jesus!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes exactly. Not all gays die and we sure as shut don’t deserve to die just to appease straight people or to teach them a ‘valuable life lesson’.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved the points you made in this review and agree that the movie is doing something that many people wouldn’t think is necessary or “realistic.” I also appreciated every scene with Ethan! I think it showed to Simon and the audience that even those in the LGBT community can have internalized homophobia (Simon: I wish [Ethan] wouldn’t make it so easy for them). And that scene towards the end of the film where Simon said something along the lines of it being “easy” for Ethan and Ethan going “Are you kidding?” was important and heartbreaking. I think the underlying theme of this movie that it got pretty well was Simon, not having to get others to accept his “huge-ass secret” but instead becoming more confident in himself and his identity. And that’s another reason why I wish, as well, that there had been more emails with Blue! More Blue, more Ethan, moremoremore lol It was such a feel good movie overall and we def need more of that.

    Liked by 1 person

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