A group of outcasts, a helpful English teacher and an overly enthusiastic “Rocky Horror…
Logan Lerman and Emma Watson star as high school outcasts in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” (John Bramley/Summit Entertainment, LLC/MCT)
A group of outcasts, a helpful English teacher and an overly enthusiastic “Rocky Horror Picture Show” cast make up Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” — a movie adaptation that shows “we are infinite.”
The simple, formulaic yet thoughtful screenplay of this novel-turned-film was written and directed by the book’s author himself, Chbosky. Its storyline might follow a group of misfits through a year of high school, but this is more than just another teen movie.
On the surface, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a coming of age story. But beneath lies a myriad of adult, real-life problems told through the medium of adolescence.
It’s high school, and viewers are reminded of this with every football game, cafeteria fight and rebellious act of defiance throughout the film. But there exists an undertone of sincerity and urgency to the movie that indicates something real is wrong with each of these characters, and especially the story’s protagonist, Charlie (Logan Lerman).
Charlie is a quiet high school freshman trying to find a place where he feels he belongs. He finds solace in a group called the Wallflowers, who introduce him to drugs, alcohol, music and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
The starring trio is rounded out by Patrick (Ezra Miller), who is eclectic, gay and compassionate, and his stepsister Sam (Emma Watson), who is upbeat but noticeably damaged.
While Charlie is intoxicated at a party, he lets slip to Sam that his best friend killed himself last May and also accidentally discovers Patrick’s relationship with the high school quarterback. The information only brings the friends closer together, and soon the three become inseparable.
The film takes place sometime in the late ’80s or early ’90s. No one has a cell phone, and everyone is listening to cassette tapes, which would be admittedly cooler on screen if recent trends weren’t emulating ’90s style so much.
The soundtrack is undeniably good. We hear David Bowie, The Smiths, New Order and other quintessential artists of those decades. Music weaves the movie’s scenes together as the characters constantly search for the perfect song for that mixtape or exactly what to listen to as they pretend to fly through the tunnel while standing in the back of a pickup truck.
While this movie isn’t doing anything innovative, it also isn’t contrived. It’s familiar, but it avoids feeling like another after-school special.