The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a diamond in the rough. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect – even though I had read the book and all my friends said it was the best movie of the year. I had high hopes, though, because no movie could go wrong in the capable hands of the book’s author, Stephen Chobosky.
The movie follows an introverted teenager named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who is entering his freshman year in high school. Two seniors, Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) take him under their wings. For the first time, Charlie feels accepted. The trio deals with the turbulence of the high school world including drugs, sexuality, and trauma. Charlie must learn to face his past while learning important life lessons that hold more than just a sprinkle of truth.
Perks made me cry. And not just a few tears here and there, but full-on streaming down my face towards the end. What made me cry? I don’t know. I can’t say for sure. Perhaps it was the raw tangible emotion and chemistry on screen. Or maybe it was the tough circumstances these characters faced. Or it could have been the hope the characters clung on to, hope for a better future. Whatever it was, it touched me deeply in a place where only a few movies have ventured to address the confusion of adolescence with blunt honesty and yet, the theme of being infinite.
This quote, narrated by Charlie, sums it up. “My doctor said we can’t choose where we come from but we can choose where we go from there. I know it’s not all the answers but it was enough to start putting these pieces together.”
The dialogue is memorable and witty, thanks to director Chobosky’s ingeniousness. Usually, I hold to the belief that books are way better than movies (this happens 95% of the time). But Perks of Being a Wallflower falls into the 5% category in which the movie lives up to the book’s hype – perhaps even surpassing it in a way that books simply cannot express. (As a writer, part of me can’t believe that I’m saying this).
This is, in part, due to the gritty and flawless performances. Lerman brings out the quiet Charlie in a way that is immediately likable, yet holding something back that has troubled him for a long time. His character is delicate and silently observant, and certainly brings out the perks of being a wallflower. Miller plays the unusual, hysterical ringleader Patrick even better than I could have imagined. Emma Watson portrays Sam wholeheartedly without any clichés that usually come attached to the love interest of a story. In fact, calling her a love interest would offend many fans because she is so much more than just a side plot.
Perks is emotional and courageous in presenting life’s ups and downs on screen. However, it is rated PG-13 for “mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens”. Some scenes did make me feel uncomfortable, but the reason that I would recommend it for 13 and up is because it really opened my eyes to what is really going on outside of my circle. I personally don’t know anyone who have experienced what Charlie, Sam, and Patrick went through but both the book and the movie have taught me not to judge. I’ve realized that people are just lost and searching for ways to put their life back together. I don’t want to judge people, just like Charlie says about Sam, “I guess she had a reputation. But I don’t care. I’d hate for her to judge me for what I used to be like.”
The open acceptance that Charlie receives, the fleetingness of each moment, the perks (and drawbacks) of being not only a wallflower but also feeling infinite all adds up to a salute of acknowledgement that teens sometimes hit the bottom and still experience some of the breathtaking heights that life can bring. Reading the book first is recommended to add insight while watching the movie. Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie for teens (13+) to embrace, laugh, cry and relate to – a simple yet complex gem to be held on to forever and always.
Parental Guidance is a comedy that will catch families unaware and pull at their heartstrings. I thought I had prepared myself enough – at least, I knew it would have the entire theater shaking with laughter. What I didn’t expect was that this movie is an absolute tear-jerker.
Artie Decker (Billy Crystal) and his wife, Diane Decker (Bette Midler) agree to babysit their three grandkids for a while. However, their infrequent visits to their daughter Alice’s (Marisa Tomei) home sets them as “the other grandparents.” To make it even harder, the kids’ type-A helicopter parents have set countless rules and regulations in the household. When Artie and Diane’s old school ways of teaching clash with their grandkids’ 21st century problems, the family goes through a series of comedic misadventures and misunderstandings before they finally realize that despite the gap of generations, it’s learning to bend that brings a family together.
When you combine two of the greatest comedy legends, what you get is a heartfelt, down-to-earth, riproaring rodeo of fun. Every scene in the movie is filled with laughs for both kids and parents as well as hilarious hijinks that will thrill youngsters, including a sugar-high cake scene. The family’s relatable trio consists of Harper (Bailee Madison), an overachiever 12-year old; middle child Turner (Joshua Rush), a good kid with a stutter; and 5-year old Barker (Kyle Harrison Breitkopf) who has an imaginary friend. Artie and Diane try to connect with the kids in a way that will resound with viewers.
Some parents may disagree with Artie and Diane’s methods of parenting. Artie frequently bribes 5-year old Barker to be on his best behavior and to keep secrets. Barker never gets serious punishment for his bad behavior. Diane talks to Harper about the good ol’ days when she and her friends would have a fine night, drinking. Harper responds, aghast, “You want me to drink?” However, the characters grow and learn their lessons along the way.
This film has something for everyone, whether you’re a kid, parent, or grandparent. I felt the awkwardness between Harper and her crush. I exalted in that feeling of triumph with 9-year old Turner when he conquers his obstacles. I knew what it was like to lose a dream, and yet to find that there is more in life that’s waiting for the right time to show up. I could see the gap of generations and the formidable task of getting “up-to-date” with the “new school” way of things. I was touched by the mother and daughter relationship between Alice and 12-year old Harper. I understood the fragile father and daughter relationship between Artie and Alice.
Parental Guidance is eccentric, affectionate, and has some of the best lines in the comedy genre. Just remember that this movie is rated PG, and I say this not because of objectional content, but because after parents watch with their kids, they’ll want to host a family reunion. Parental Guidanceis a must-see gem that will strike audience’s hearts – perfect for a fun family outing to the movies.
Set in the Scottish kingdom of DunBroch, Merida is a headstrong princess who loves archery living with her triplet devilish brothers, her father, King Fergus and her mother, Queen Elinor. In Merida’s opinion, she and her mother couldn’t have been more unlike each other – especially when Elinor invites three clan leaders to present their first-borns to compete for Merida’s hand. This leads to a big falling out and Merida heads into the forest. She meets a woodcutter witch – your typical Disney hag complete with the warts and broomstick – who offers to change her mom in order to change her fate about the marriage.
The literal “change” casts a spell on her mother and threatens Merida’s family along with the entire kingdom. Merida sets about a journey filled with magic, danger, and love to undo her selfish actions.
I would go as far as to say that this has been Pixar’s darkest movie yet. It’s a fresh heart-warming tale about mother-and-daughter bonding with comic relief provided by the mischievous triplets – however, I regretted bringing my 5-year-old cousin with me to the theaters. Her eyes were squeezed shut whenever the vicious bear Mor’du appeared on screen. Pixar did a fantastic job of building up anticipation in every scene – I kept expecting some unforeseen danger to pop up even in the light-hearted scenes. At some points, the entire spell-changing fate kerfuffle was quite disturbing – the idea that someone as dignified as Queen Elinor could turn into a wild bear may be unsettling for younger viewers.
Even so, my other 7-year-old cousin cried and sniffed loudly during one of the poignant mother and daughter moments. Brave offers many important life-lessons about relationships and responsibility, to have the courage to face one’s mistakes. Merida breaks the tradition of the Disney princesses. She’s not your typical princess but I see her as the youngest and the most relatable. Her spontaneous and courageous personality will draw viewers of all ages.
Though Brave may not be the next Finding Nemo, Toy Story, or Monsters Inc., Merida adds some good to the world with her sweet, stubborn, impulsive presence. This new addition to Pixar’s filmography is not to be missed – for Disney lovers, Pixar fans, and lasses and lads everywhere. Don’t be a bunch of galoots and follow the Will O’ The Wisps to your fate. Brave is a PickIT! Ages 7+
First published @ Kidspickflicks
I feel that there has to be two reviews for this particular movie – one for the fans, and another for, well, the non-fans, or those with no background knowledge of The Hunger Games, the novel by Suzanne Collins. My word to the non-fans: Read the books. Read my review. Then decide whether or not you want to see the movie. But this review is for the fans who haven’t seen the movie. This review is also for those who have seen the movie and are merely curious to see what other teens think of it. (Haha, gotcha!)
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the 74th Hunger Games!
Directed by Gary Ross, flash forward into this post-apocalyptic setting, and the world as we know it has fallen. The shining Capitol rose out of the dust and chaos, and underneath are the 12 districts, each serving its own function. To remind the citizens of their power, the Capitol holds an annual Hunger Games, a twisted source of entertainment for all of Panem. One boy and one girl (called tributes) are selected from every district to participate in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old living in District 12, one of the poorest districts, manages to feed her mother, her beloved younger sister Prim, and herself by hunting in the off-limit woods. Katniss’ world is turned upside down when Prim is chosen as a tribute, and bravely volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is her tribute partner, and they must play the angle of the star-crossed lovers to win the Capitol audience’s heart.
This was one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in a long time. It stayed true to the book as much as possible, and we (as an audience) are definitely sucked into the story, applying our background knowledge from the books to every character that appears on-screen.
Jennifer Lawrence embodied her character from head to toe. She became Katniss – her audacity, independence, and nerve shines ever so brilliantly on screen. Lawrence also brought out Katniss’ flaws, enabling fans to relate, connect, and love her as a well-rounded character. Josh Hutcherson is perfect as the easygoing, sweet, gentle Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth, with what little screen time he had, immediately established himself as the tough hunter Gale is. Woody Harrelson acted a lot like the Haymitch I imagined. Fans will not be disappointed in the roles of the tributes – although many are first-timers, they portrayed their characters flawlessly. I still wish they had more screen time, even though the movie is already two hours and twenty-two minutes long. The pacing is well done; audiences won’t squirm, but rather, their eyes will be riveted on the screen. The shaky-cam style wasn’t really my favorite – it was a relief when the camera stood still. Even so, it was a good technique that gave us quick, choppy shots that hid most of the violence.
I liked it very much, and that was why it bothered me. How can someone say that they like a movie about kids killing kids? The Capitol audience is entertained by watching the Hunger Games. We pay to watch the movie The Hunger Games. What difference is there? When you root for Katniss to win, you want everyone else to die.
As I was in great conflict, I wondered why I didn’t feel this way in the books. I came to the conclusion that Katniss’ anger towards the Capitol isn’t as prominent in the movie than the books. That moment with the berries is supposed to be monumental, something that will be remembered, but in the movie, it was over in a flash. Even so, her survival and willingness to give up her life for others still manage to win me over.
The deaths and killings are no way over glamorized, and I’m happy to report that the violence was toned down, true to its rating of a PG-13. We are not meant to cheer for the deaths. Even those who are part of the “bad” group reveal that they are simply hurt and scared, pawns that have been used in the inhuman system of the Hunger Games.
Fans will love it. Nonfans will probably love it. All I can say is that it turned out better than I expected, and that’s saying a lot. May the odds be ever in your favor. So watch with the world, ‘cause the world will be watching. Ages 12+
Check out my book review for the Hunger Games, and tell us your opinions below!