Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Movies

Review: 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' earns an A for unsentimental honesty

t

he Perks of Being a Wallflower is set in 1991, in a small town where high school culture is a John Hughes movie, with all the confusion, '80s music and hip ennui that implies. Everyone can't wait to get out, and no one more than Charlie, an introverted freshman counting down the days to graduation even before his first class.

Freshmen like Charlie typically lie low and stay lonely, dodging bullies and awkward lunges for friendship with seniors who are so much cooler. Charlie is different. He's a wallflower, one such senior says, and that's a compliment, an invitation for Charlie to join his clique, his "island of misfit toys."

Being a wallflower does indeed have its perks in Stephen Chbosky's movie, based on his semiautobiographical novel. Charlie will develop his first crush, catch his first buzz, and make his first decisions not dictated by what he's expected to do. Maturing also means confronting crippling personal issues and having illusions dashed, penalties for now and perks later in life.

Logan Lerman plays Charlie as an MTV generation Holden Caulfield, an observer mostly keeping thoughts to himself and passionately odd when expressing them. Lerman impressed before in middling movies (Hoot, Percy Jackson and the Olympians), but this nuanced performance is something special. He refuses to make Charlie pitiful when there's every right to be, yet adds uncertainty to each step forward. It feels genuine, like the rest of Chbosky's movie.

The catalysts for Charlie's growth are flashier, more confident, but that's a teenage facade essayed by two other bracing young stars.

Sam (Emma Watson) is the girl of his dreams, a seemingly carefree senior out of reach or maybe not. Free of Harry Potter's SFX distractions, Watson proves herself to be more than merely an ingenue. The camera loves her, but there's a distinctly un-Hermione edge to Sam, and Watson gamely plays it.

The showstopper here is Ezra Miller's portrayal of Sam's gay half brother Patrick, cloaking insecurity with the bonhomie of an adolescent Oscar Wilde. Patrick's secret affair with the school's star quarterback is his badge and burden; lip synching Dr. Frank N. Furter at Rocky Horror Picture Show screenings is his release. I didn't realize until later that Miller also played the disturbed son in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Talk about a bold acting range.

I adore The Perks of Being a Wallflower for its honest, unsentimental feel, which gets stretched a bit in the revelatory finale, but by then I didn't mind. This movie is filled with characters who learned how to be teenagers through The Breakfast Club and Sixteen Candles, now discovering that life isn't always Molly Ringwald going to the prom and that's okay. There is always the chance, as Charlie declares, of being infinite.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

Comments
Who’s going to die in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? Here are the candidates

Who’s going to die in ‘Avengers: Infinity War’? Here are the candidates

On Monday night’s episode of Disney-owned "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," the late-night host asked his five guests promoting "Avengers: Infinity War" who might die in the new film, officially opens Thursday. After all, Kimmel noted, someone has to perish in a...
Published: 04/25/18
Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

An 80-year-old woman runs half marathons to stay one step ahead of Alzheimer’s. A man in his 50s runs his first 5K. A cancer survivor celebrates her 60s by running the U.S. perimeter.Welcome to The Human Race, an upcoming documentary celebrating seni...
Published: 04/24/18
Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Persall: Upon retirement, a look back at a star-quality career

Do you see what I did there? The comma and extra "E" in my byline? One last pun, just for fun. It’s the end, fin in French, and something unfortunately ruder in Swedish. Time to retire, nearly 25 years to the day after starting work as the T...
Published: 04/19/18
This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

This is a week to spring clean instead of hitting a movie theater.

It’s a spring cleaning weekend at multiplexes, with studios vacuuming every dollar from current releases before the Avengers and Amy Schumer drop in next week. If you’ve seen A Quiet Place, Ready Player One and Black Panther, this is probably a good ...
Published: 04/18/18
R. Lee Ermey, drill sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey, drill sergeant in ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ dies at 74

.LOS ANGELES — R. Lee Ermey, a former Marine who made a career in Hollywood playing hard-nosed military men like Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in Stanley Kubrick’s "Full Metal Jacket," has died. Ermey’s longtime manager Bill Rogin says he died Sunday morning ...
Published: 04/15/18
Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

Rays stadium backers sponsor free screening of ‘Field of Dreams’ at Tampa Theatre

TAMPA — It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, and more than a few dreams, too.So a business group advocating for a stadium in Ybor City is joining with the Tampa Theatre for a free screening of t...
Published: 04/13/18
What’s in theaters: ‘Beirut,’ ‘Rampage,’ ‘Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare’

What’s in theaters: ‘Beirut,’ ‘Rampage,’ ‘Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare’

INDIE FLICKS:BEIRUTJon Hamm has no trouble looking like a movie star. Dapper or bedraggled, it doesn’t matter what kind of role. He’ll make it believable. What he doesn’t have yet is a starring role worthy of his talent, although Beirut (R) comes pre...
Published: 04/12/18
Helen Hunt plays my high school gym teacher in ‘The Miracle Season’

Helen Hunt plays my high school gym teacher in ‘The Miracle Season’

I never had school spirit. I didn’t go to many football games, and I never owned a West High shirt. (Green doesn’t look good on me.) Then I moved away, and tragedy struck my high school.The Miracle Season, now in theaters, is the tear-jerking true st...
Updated one month ago
Why it’d be even scarier to watch John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ at home instead of in theater

Why it’d be even scarier to watch John Krasinski’s ‘A Quiet Place’ at home instead of in theater

A Quiet Place is where John Krasinski’s hushed experiment in terror should be watched, not at multiplexes where silence is easily broken.Krasinski’s movie wrings fright from silence so well that he accidentally makes a case for waiting until home vid...
Updated one month ago
What’s in theaters this week: ‘A Quiet Place,’ ‘Blockers,’ ‘The Miracle Season’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘A Quiet Place,’ ‘Blockers,’ ‘The Miracle Season’

A QUIET PLACEReal-life married couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, right, need to keep it down in A Quiet Place (PG-13). Silence isn’t just golden; it can save your life.Krasinski and Blunt play Lee and Evelyn, whose family has survived a worldwid...
Updated one month ago