Unashamedly earnest and heartfelt, Greg Berlanti's Love, Simon is a sweet and entertaining coming-of-age film, effortlessly tapping into the confusion, anxieties, and joys of adolescence. Expanding upon classic teen romance flicks of the past, the film fully takes its tried-and-true genre into the 21st Century. Great video and audio presentations round out the package, along with a solid assortment of supplements. Recommended.
We have also reviewed this film on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
"Everyone deserves a great love story." That's the tagline written on the poster for director Greg Berlanti's Love, Simon, and I'm not sure there's a better way to sum up the film's ultimate message than that. Based on the book written by Becky Albertalli, the movie presents a sweet and sincere examination of high school romance and adolescent struggles. As the first major studio rom-com to focus on a gay teen relationship, the film represents an important milestone. But even beyond the movie's significance within the industry, this is just an effortlessly great coming-of-age flick through and through.
Simon (Nick Robinson) is an affable high school senior with a supportive family and great friends. But despite his seemingly carefree life, he remains hesitant to tell his loved ones that he's gay, fearing the change the revelation about his sexuality might bring. When another male student at his school anonymously comes out through an online blog under the pseudonym "Blue", Simon starts up an email exchange with his classmate. Though they both keep their real names a secret, the two soon develop a genuine connection and Simon sets out to try and discover the real identity of his newfound crush. But when their emails are accidentally discovered, the pair's blossoming romance is threatened, placing Simon's chance at love in jeopardy.
Offering a fitting internet-age spin on otherwise tried-and-true teen-romance plotting, the search for Simon's online secret admirer becomes an engaging drive for the story, and the filmmakers have some fun conveying the emails in a cinematic way. To this end, we're treated to fantasy sequences and voiceover narration of Simon's messages, providing an organic window into his thoughts as he imagines Blue typing his responses back. And as Simon suspects different classmates throughout the runtime, the director playfully inserts these potential candidates into Simon's daydreams, visually shifting our perspective of Blue as we narrow down his real identity.
And as that mystery comes closer and closer to being solved, Simon goes through a journey of self-discovery, learning how to embrace all the aspects of his own identity openly. But while there are indeed conflicts and anxieties related to this arc, the filmmakers take a comparatively light approach to the subject matter. On that note, there's just something irresistibly earnest and open-hearted about the whole affair that makes the film a genuine joy to watch. From its catchy soundtrack and peppy style to its amusing sense of humor and exceptionally likeable ensemble, the movie takes all the best aspects of John Hughes-era teen comedies and pushes them forward just enough to come away with something that feels fresh while still carrying clear influences.
With that said, there are times when the film's unabashed feel-good sincerity can come close to diluting its drama. But thankfully, the director ultimately avoids an overly saccharine or sanitized feel, offering some intermittent bite to some of Simon's struggles and depth to his group of friends. Though the core gang features some of the most good-natured teens I've ever seen on the big screen, they all rise above stock archetypes, revealing realistic motivations and vulnerabilities. The scenes where they simply hang out together are some of the movie's strongest, and by the time the climax rolls around, the characters' relationships have gone through genuine growth, making the finale all the more satisfying.
An inclusive teen rom-com for the 21st Century, Love, Simon whole-heartedly fulfills the promise of its tagline, offering an irresistibly endearing and genuinely great love story. Sure, it might repeat some familiar genre beats and the tone is a bit breezy at times, but this earnest and nostalgic approach only heighten the film's charm -- tapping into all the warm and fuzzy and nervous emotions of blossoming high school romance.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
20th Century Fox presents Love, Simon on a BD-50 Blu-ray disc housed in a keepcase with a cardboard slipcover. A DVD disc and instructions for a MoviesAnywhere Digital Copy are included inside. After some skippable trailers, the disc transitions to a standard menu. The packaging indicates that the release is region A coded.
The movie is provided with a 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Nicely detailed and free from any pesky technical issues, this is a strong image.
The digital source is clean and, outside of some very light grain-like noise in some shots, free from any unwanted artifacts. Though not razor sharp, overall clarity is good, revealing a nice sense of fine detail in faces, patterns on clothes, and background textures in locations (like leaves on trees and the brick walls of the school). The color palette is natural with splashes of bright and cheery hues. Reds and greens are particularly punchy at times, offering some pleasing pop in certain wardrobe choices. Contrast is balanced well with even whites and deep blacks, though detail can look just a tad blown out and flat in some brighter shots near windows.
It might not have the flashiest transfer, but Love, Simon hits Blu-ray with a very good video presentation, respecting the film's modest yet pleasing style well.
The film is presented with an English DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, along with several foreign language audio and subtitle options. Though a bit front-loaded, this is a punchy and engaging mix that suits the content very well.
Dialogue is clear and full-bodied throughout, but speech in one outdoor scene at a football game does have a faintly thin quality (likely just a result of the recording environment). General ambiance is solid, spreading background clatter throughout classrooms and halls. With that said, surround presence is a little muted. Key effects, like tussling sets and props during a rehearsal for a school play, hit the rears with emphasis, but the surrounds are mostly relegated to faint atmospherics. Directionality is solid across the left and right soundstage, however, and the movie's fantastic pop soundtrack comes through with nice separation and range. Bass also kicks in nicely during certain song choices and a booming Halloween house party.
Though it could be just a bit more immersive at times, the track offers an effective and lively experience in tune with the film's upbeat yet comparatively limited scope.
Audio Commentary – Director Greg Berlanti, producer Issac Klausner and co-screenwriter Isaac Aptaker sit down for this track, offering an affable and informative discussion. Though there's nothing particularly eye-opening shared here, the group touches upon the adaptation process, casting, the soundtrack, and the movie's visual style while providing a few amusing bits of trivia here and there.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 8 min) – Two deleted scenes are presented here viewable separately or together, including a sequence where Simon lies to Abby about Nick's history with women, and a scene featuring an amusing trip to a gay bar. While good on their own, these were wise cuts.
The Adaptation (HD, 11 min) – This is a brief behind-the-scenes featurette with cast and crew interviews focusing on the source material and how the filmmaker's tried to visualize certain aspects of the book.
The Squad (HD, 10 min) – More cast and crew interviews are provided here, this time focusing on the film's ensemble.
#firstlovestorycontestwinner (HD, 2 min) – As part of the movie's promotion, the filmmakers held a short film contest for stories about first love. Included here is the winning entry along with an intro from Greg Berlanti.
Dear Georgia (HD, 5 min) – In this featurette, the cast and crew talk about the shooting locations in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dear Atlanta (HD, 2 min) – More praise for the film's shooting location is offered here.
Gallery (HD) – Here we get a collection of production stills and behind-the-scenes photos.
Theatrical Trailers (HD, 4 min) – Two trailers are included.
Greg Berlanti's Love, Simon is an earnest and heartfelt teen rom-com, offering an updated, inclusive take on classic genre beats. The video transfer and audio mix are both strong considering the movie's modest scope. Though not packed with extras, the disc includes a worthwhile commentary track and some featurettes. Sweet and effortlessly entertaining, this is a genuinely well-made and crowd-pleasing coming-of-age flick. Recommended.