Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a shy kid with a troubled past who’s just starting high school. Introverted and lonely, he’s taken in by “misfit” step-siblings Patrick and Sam (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson).
Released in 2012, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is almost as bad as its title; a self-absorbed navel-gazer that makes The Way Way Back and The Breakfast Club look like The Godfather and The Godfather II. Hollywood is incapable of making their “odd” characters remotely odd, instead falling back on traits so irritating they’d make even the most committed hipster blush. Or whatever it is that hipsters do instead of blush. Here are some of the quirky things that these crazy kids get up to:
- Watching “foreign films”. Wow, what a fascinating and weirdly non-specific interest, please tell me more. Which “foreign films”? A Serbian Film? Der ewige Jude?
- Using a typewriter. There’s a reason no one uses typewriters. They’re crap. You can’t even play games on them. Next.
- Liking the Rocky Horror Show. Shut up.
- Having a bit of colour in your hair. It’s non-conforming, but not too much.
- Saying “I feel infinite.” And then rolling your eyes when someone else says “Poetry writes me.” What you said was way worse, you nauseating adolescent.
- Describing someone as “really interesting, because she’s a buddhist and a punk.” She sounds like an arsehole.
- Listening to The Smiths. The laziest shorthand for “misunderstood teen” in the history of cinema. I believe the same device is used in the Zooey Deschanel vehicle (500) Days of Summer. I’ve not seen it.
The point is, Hollywood want to make films about misfits, but they have to be broadly appealing and generally palatable. So they’re conventionally attractive, and they go to parties, and they have these painfully forced “quirky” hobbies. It’s only because these characters keep describing themselves as “misfits” that we know that’s what they’re meant to be. Otherwise we’d just assume they were popular, good-looking, rich kids who happened to be unbearably annoying. All this feels like it would be alienating to young people who are actually different, rather than just Morrissey fans.
Clearly these are all personal bugbears of mine, and you could easily love this film if you’re a fan of that type of crap. The cast do a fine job, including Emma Watson; one of three people only famous because as children they happened to look like the description of a character in a successful kid’s book. Mae Whitman also features, who you should know as Arrested Development‘s Ann. Who? Between that and this, she seems to have carved out a niche playing the annoying girl whose boyfriend doesn’t actually like her and is secretly in love with someone else. Ezra Miller does his best with an insultingly stereotypical “gay best friend” role, but makes you wish that he’d flip out and go all We Need To Talk About Kevin at the high school.
Clumsily tack-on a “dark” ending and you’ve got The Perks of Being a Wallflower. You can’t do that on a typewriter, can you? If you use a typewriter and you want to respond, please feel free to leave a comment. Except you won’t, because you can’t even go online. Prick.