The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author Stephen Chbosky adapted and directed this version of his bestselling young adult novel about Charlie (Logan Lerman), an emotionally damaged high school freshman who is lucky enough to fall in with a couple of senior step-siblings: the fabulously gay Patrick (a barely restrained Ezra Miller) and the adorable Sam (a lovely but granitic Emma Watson). They introduce him to the glories of marijuana, mixtapes, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but also the nightmares of unrequited love, bad trips, and closeted sexuality. And along the way, he's got some baggage of his own to unpack. Mom and Dad are refreshingly human, but still sidelined — the adult pole star is English teacher Paul Rudd, who feeds Charlie a steady diet of Salinger, Lee, Kerouac, and Thoreau, and says things like, "We accept the love we think we deserve." The story lurches and bogs, and Miller sounds about 20 years ahead of his time (the story is set in 1991). But Perks is going for that teenage feeling more than anything else: of knowingness and wonder, of longing and fulfillment. Mostly, it gets it, thanks in part to a carefully chosen soundtrack. 2012.

1.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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