The Perks of Being a Wallflower

5 / 5

ALMOST 15 YEARS ago, author Stephen Chbosky struck a chord with introverted, outcast or otherwise angsty adolescents everywhere with his epistolary novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s a coming-of-age story in the vein of The Breakfast Club that turns its attention to alternative lifestyles, abuse, and mental illness. The story is told in a series of letters written by Charlie, a shy and troubled kid who’s apprehensive about his freshman year of high school. But soon enough he meets Sam and her stepbrother Patrick, a couple of seniors who welcome him into their lives and introduce him to new experiences—for better or for worse.

Chbosky took on the noble task of writing and directing the screen adaptation of his novel, and with each scene of eloquently captured earnestness and oddity, it really shows. What also shows is the great casting; unlike a lot of teen TV or movie characters who are clearly portrayed by actors in their mid-20s, the characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower are actually believable, and downright lovable. Logan Lerman plays a perfect Charlie, while Ezra Miller delights with his hilarious and flamboyant portrayal of Patrick. Emma Watson makes for a fantastic best friend and love interest, despite being just a tad too mature for her role and failing to mask her trademark British accent quite as well as she might’ve hoped.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those movies that sinks in deep, that you can’t stop thinking about for days, that makes you scour the net for clips of the most satisfying and heart-wrenching parts. It’s a rare feel-good film that can boast a good share of hopelessness and despair while warming your heart at the same time.

—Adam Feibel

Celeste and Jesse Forever

2 / 5

A TITLE LIKE Celeste and Jesse Forever would probably lead movie-goers to expect another run-of-the-mill chick flick, filled with cheesy lines and a sweet ending.

While the film doesn’t disappoint in either of those areas, it doesn’t do much to distance itself from other slightly-below-average romantic comedies that Hollywood seems to churn out ad nauseam.

The film follows Celeste, portrayed by Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the screenplay), as she finds herself falling for Jesse, played by Saturday Night Live royalty Andy Samberg. The only problem? He’s her ex-husband and is having a baby with another woman. What ensue are a lot of drugs and dates on Celeste’s part in an effort to “find herself.”

The movie, while not terribly unoriginal, doesn’t seem to find its sweet spot. There may be a few hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments sprinkled in with a couple of “aww”-worthy scenes, but for the most part, Celeste and Jesse Forever falls flat.

Suffering from a serious case of “just average,” the film feels like a bad mash-up of director Peyton Reed’s The Break-Up and Marc Webb’s indie gem 500 Days of Summer. Sadly, this weird hybrid doesn’t work. Plagued with bad acting from a supporting cast—Emma Roberts as a bratty, rich pop star shouldn’t be that much of a stretch, but it was—and a weak plot, Celeste and Jesse Forever will leave you checking your watch and thinking about what you’re going to wear tomorrow. But hey, what do you expect from Hollywood?

—Sofia Hashi