Plot: What’s it about?
Having just celebrated my 40th birthday, I can safely say that it’s been over two decades since I’ve been a teenager (and even then I was still 20 years old). So movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower aren’t exactly my cup of tea…unless they’re done right. Yes I grew up on films like The Breakfast Club, The Goonies and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and while all classics in their own right, let’s face it – they’re nearing three decades old! Back to the film in question, I’d only heard of this movie in passing and only then because I knew Emma Watson (aka Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books) was going to star in it. I had no idea it was from a 1999 novel of the same name and hadn’t really heard of any of the other younger actors in it. Granted there are some veterans that I recognized like Kate Walsh, Dylan McDermott and Paul Rudd but aside from those names, I was clueless. Having said all of that, I went into the movie with a clean slate, so here we go…
Charlie (Logan Lerman) lives in the shadow of his brother, a football player for Penn State. His older sister, Candace (Nina Dobrev) is dating a jerk and Charlie feels all but invisible as he enters his Freshman year of High School. In one of his classes Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), a flamboyant class clown who sees Charlie for what he is and takes him under his wing. His step sister, Sam (Emma Watson) completes the trio. As Charlie starts to come out of his shell, he experiences some feelings for Sam, though she’s taken by another man. Charlie experiments with drugs and learns of Patrick’s sexuality. Add to this that Charlie has had a troubled past and this newfound freedom might not be the best course of action for him. Sam and Patrick, however, are a positive influence on Charlie and do help him see the world that he’s been missing while hidden in his room. But was life better for Charlie before or after?
There aren’t many “teen” movies out there that can really connect with an adult audience as most seem trite and dated. However I have to say that Ther Perks of Being a Wallflower spoke to me like it spoke to many other viewers. One thing that occupied my thoughts was the time frame of the film. Having never read the book and seeing a lack of cell phones and laptops, I can only surmise that it took place in the late 80’s or early 90’s. Or maybe the filmmakers kept the time period rather ambiguous as this seems to be a rather timeless tale of teen behavior? Based on the soundtrack alone, which it littered with songs by David Bowie, The Smiths and Cracker (to name a few) I’d guess it to take place in the past. Still, it’s of no consequence and I’ll echo what so many others have said – this is truly a modern classic.
Video: How does it look?
If any movie epitomizes the independent film it’s got to be this one. Presented in a 1.78:1 AVC HD transfer, the image has some moments of clarity, though the entire film seems to have a fine layer of grain over it. That’s not really a problem, however, as it really seems to embody the independent roots that this film is sprouted from. Colors seem a bit muted, though detail did seem a bit more impressive after a second look. Those looking for Emma Watson’s trademark locks as Hermione will have to settle for a few scenes in which she’s re-enacting bits from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. By no means is this a bad transfer, it’s just not the polished and glossy film that we’ve been so accustomed to.
Audio: How does it sound?
The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack isn’t exactly wasted here, but let’s just say that it really doesn’t get much of a chance to stretch its legs, either. The majority of the film is dialogue driven with some bits and pieces thrown in the surrounds for some good measure. As I mentioned above, the soundtrack features a good sampling of some of the better indy songs of the 80’s with classics like “Come on Eileen”, “Heroes” and “Low” just to name a few. Vocals sound rich and full, though a few times it was a bit hard to understand what some of the actors were saying. I don’t fault the sound mix, though. It’s a nice effort, but certainly not one to wake the neighbors.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Aside from the dual commentary tracks, the disc is a bit light on the supplements. But having said that the first commentary is by writer/director Stephen Chbosky who gives a very heart felt and fact-filled track. This is seconded by the other track in which we’ve got the three stars of the film with Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra MIller as well as a few of the other minor actors. While a more lively track, Chbosky’s track is the better listen. We get a rather predictable “Best Summer Ever” featurette as well as a dozen deleted scenes with or without commentary from Chbosky, some trailers for other Lionsgate films as well as the “Dailies” for the film. There’s a Digital Copy as well as an UltraViolet copy as well.