Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Review of 'The Perils of Being a Wallflower'

Another romcom with mental illness overlay, only this one is more of a high school teen comedy, with occasional romcom elements. Mainly a coming of age film, quite gentle and funny. The main character starts out as awkward and isolated at the beginning, but he soon finds the school misfits (actually not all that misfitted themselves - the girls just wear a bit too much eye shadow, and one of the blokes is gay) and soon has a full and happy social life.

Liberal heart firmly on sleeve. Unusually none of the drug-taking here leads to any sort of problem - they don't die from over-doses, crash cars, jump off buildings, as drug-taking characters usually do. They have a good time, are funny, and recover. They don't even get into trouble. Even the scenes in which they listen to music very loud while driving their cars (not under the influence of drugs or drink - it's not that liberal, or that stupid) don't result in fatal pile-ups.

Some of seems particularly implausible, though - is it really possible that in the most advanced English class in an American High School no-one knows that Shakespeare didn't write novels? Or that none of the kids even claim that they will read for pleasure out of class? Really?

One nice thing; there is a bit of a time capsule dimension to it, because it's based on a 1999 novel, and so no-one has mobiles or internet. They make mix-tapes on cassette. The only phones are enormous home cordless ones. Curiously the kids don't seem to have any difficulty arranging their social lives. Why aren't they wandering around not knowing where to meet each other?

So is the mental health (and child sex abuse) angle there just to give an otherwise pleasant but unremarkable teen comedy a bit of gravitas? Or is this in some way autobiographical. I think we should be told.

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