Alright, I’m just going to come right out and say this right off the bat, so that you know that yes, this review is going to be a little biased (well, aren’t all of mine anyways?) – this is probably my favorite movie I’ve seen this year so far. It faces a few more contendas – specifically SkyFall (don’t need to link that one, you’ve seen a commercial for that newfangled James Bond movie every other commercial break on tv, or on yahoo, or wherever you fancy – hell I’d advertise for it on here if I could), Cloud Atlas, Lincoln, and Django Unchained coming out in the next two months…but this movie was just brilliant. It dethroned the previous champ, Cabin in the Woods, which held it’s place for quite a long time, but while that movie was great in its own right, this movie affected me much more deeply than that movie ever could (it WAS just a horror movie, after all – ever had any profound life revelations after watching a scary movie? Didn’t think so). This was a fantastic, wonderful, nearly magical movie, that was an obvious labor of love by its director – who also wrote the book AND the screenplay – Steven Chbosky. This could very well be the 18-21 year old kids today’s Breakfast Club. Yep, I went there. It’s just that freaking good.
So our main character here, who definitely gives his best performance to date, is a relatively unknown actor (well, he was Percy Jackson, but that movie didn’t make THAT much money – did it?) who plays a fairly troubled, reclusive kid. He plays this part with reservations however, so much so that we aren’t even really sure why there is anything wrong with him until about 1/3rd of the way through the movie, and we don’t know why there’s something REALLY wrong with him until nearly the end of the movie. He could have fallen into cliches with this character, he could have just been your typical kid-with-no-friends-who-suddenly-is-on-top-of-the-world-because-he-meets-a-girl in a movie that we’ve seen a thousand times (like maybe, this movie, or this one, or maybe even this one, which reaaaaally sucked – and these are all just from the past few years!), but he makes his performance so much more than that. So much so that you actually buy into what has happened to him, these terrible things, and you feel for the guy, you don’t scoff and say “yeah, cuz THAT would really happen, cmon now!” at the end, when you easily could have had a lesser actor played this role. It’s great work from this kid, and I expect big things in the future – make your paychecks with Percy Jackson, and keep doing great things like this, Logan Lerman – jesus, and maybe change your name too.
And then there is this girl, the beautiful, the lovely Hermione – I mean! Emma Watson. This is essentially her first real role stepping out of the shoes of Hermione (aside from a bit part in My Week With Marilyn – another movie you should see), and I’ll admit I was unsure what to expect. Sure she was great as Hermione, but c’mon, she did it eight times, anyone could have caught on by then I hope, like riding a bike n such. It was going to be interesting to see her play a potential love interest to someone other than ol’ Ron Weasley. Well, good news everyone – she nails it. She is by far and away the best part of the movie, so much so that when I first texted some of my friends about what I thought about this masterpiece of cinema I said “SO good – but! Needs more Emma Watson!” because it really does, plain and simple. She disappears for a while in the latter half of the movie and that essentially left me scratching my head, because sure, this movie is mainly about Charlie’s (Lerman) journey through high school and life, but c’mon, she is the one who defines his high school experience. Well, her and her QUITE gay (and VERY entertaining) stepbrother, played by Ezra Miller, who has already proven to us that he is someone to watch in the incredibly troubling (and great) movie from last year, We Need To Talk About Kevin. Check that one out for something completely different, just uh, don’t expect to be leaving with a smile on your face – which is something you WILL do when you walk out of THIS particular movie. And in no small part due to Watson’s portrayal of Sam – I have no doubt that her innocence to new roles aside from Hermione only added to how great she was in this – she plays Sam with all the wonder, ignorance, charm and grace of any beautiful, misunderstood teenage girl in high school – even to the point of pissing you off in some parts. She is someone you would have wanted to know in high school, and she plays this role so well that you know that she will only be more interesting later in life. Alright alright, I’m getting carried way. She’s just tops in this movie, she made the movie for me, and she splits most of the memorable lines from this movie (and there are many) right in half with Charlie (Lerman), let us move on.
This movie, much like any great and memorable movie, also has an excellent supporting cast – Dylan McDermott has some great lines as Charlies father, Nina Dobrev, Bella #2 from the Vampire Diaries herself, is great as Charlie’s sister, Paul Rudd is out of character and excellent as a very supportive teacher of Charlie’s writing, and the always excellent (and another one to watch, particularly in the tv show Parenthood, which you should be watching) Mae Whitman as a short-lived but long suffering girlfriend/other love interest to Charlie. She is essentially channeling the exact same character she plays in Parenthood (and I’m starting to think, maybe in real life too), but she is a great addition to this little group of outcasts.
I don’t need to spoil a lot of the plot for you in this, because you need to see it, especially if you were like me, and didn’t really “get” the high school experience or what exactly you were supposed to do there – but you had a couple awesome friends to get you through it anyways. If you have a nerdy bone in your body, if you have ever thought of yourself as eccentric or as someone that, if people could actually hear your thoughts, they would all think you are completely insane (that’s actually similar to a line in the movie, by the way), then you need to see this movie. I might be being cheesy and gushing about this movie, but I feel like I’m not the only one who felt this way about this excellent movie (it’s currently rocking an 86% on rotten tomatoes, for instance, so suck on THAT). I WILL say however, that the movie was lucky that it has such strong characters, because it ALMOST lost me toward the end – ALMOST. HOWEVER – I think this was just something personal to me, because I wanted this movie to stay firmly grounded in the “magical high school experience centered around an amazing girl” realm, and it did something that yanks you RIGHT out of that toward the end. But don’t worry! It’s fine, and this IS based on a book after all, so that’s how it has to happen – I just didn’t really it want to. I think that Lerman and Hermione and the gang do such a great job of helping you forget that Charlie was troubled to begin with due to some certain issues that are brought up early that you are like, “oh s*** yeah this guy WAS messed up, wasn’t he?” at the end when some stuff hits the fan. But don’t worry, it works, and the more I thought about it, it fits.
One last thing before I give you another four star verdict (like that will surprise anyone – “I’m giving this movie my lowest rating ever! SIX thumbs up!”) – this movie has some just excellent, truly memorable lines. Yes, Breakfast Club/Say Anything caliber memorable quotes – but actually, and this is weird, but, some of the lines really affected me in a way like the movie…now bear with me here, because the movie I’m about to mention is COMPLETELY left field from this magical little movie here, but….the movie Ordinary People. Donald Sutherland has a line toward the end of that movie that I still think about to this day, I still remember the first time I heard it, and it floored me. Charlie says a few things that ALMOST reach those heights for me, and that right there is well nigh unprecedented in a movie nowadays. I think its obvious I can’t say enough nice things about this wonderful little movie, I want to go see it again tomorrow. Go see it as soon as you can if you can find it anywhere near you, and thank me later.