Imagine yourself on the eve of your first day of high school. If you’d prefer not to, I get it, believe me. What if you’d just been released from the hospital? Do you really think you could rebound from that?
Charlie (played by Logan Lerman), is a quiet, introspective teenager who has recently suffered a setback, the full nature of which we’re not informed of, and is about to start his freshman year of high school. The only friend he makes on his first day is his English teacher, Bill Anderson (played by Paul Rudd). Rather than worry his parents, (played by Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh) Charlie gives the typical, one-syllable description of his first day of high school. Time passes and Charlie becomes friends with step-siblings Sam and Patrick. Sam (played by former Harry Potter actress Emma Watson) is an outgoing senior dating a college guy and her step-brother Patrick (played by Ezra Miller) is a flamboyant underachiever with a great sense of humor. They attend a football game together and follow that with a visit to a diner before driving Charlie home. The next function they attend as a group is a party where Charlie, unknowingly, ingests a pot brownie. It is during this moment of drug-fueled confidence that Charlie reveals to Sam the fact that he lost a friend to suicide one year ago. After quietly relaying that fact to Patrick, he and Sam both decide then and there that Charlie should become a full-fledged member of their group. Moments later, Charlie bears witness to a romantic encounter between Patrick and his closeted boyfriend, star football player Brad (played by Johnny Simmons). They leave the party, go for a drive, and hear a song that inspires Sam to stand in the bed of the pickup truck and stretch out her arms as they drive through a tunnel. This is when Charlie first develops romantic feelings for Sam which she is completely unaware of.
There’s a lot to like about this film. Miller and Watson’s characters are both very endearing and their decision to adopt fellow outcast Charlie is a moment that brings hope for the character and life in general. There are elements I believe the film could do without. Examples include the one-sided relationship between two of the characters and the references to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which never resonated with me the way it seems to with others. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it greatly and encourage others to see it at their earliest possible convenience.