I went into this high school set film with a combination of heightened trepidation and secret excitement. As a major fan of the novel on which it is set, I was worried the diary style format would lose its essence in translation. Screen-written by the author himself, Perks succeeded in transposing the epistolary pages onto animated screen-time. Fear not, readers of Stephen Chbosky’s moving tale; the film captures all the best moments. And for the uninitiated, Perks is a coming-of-age yarn rich with the flinching pains and joys of high school.
Logan Lerman stars as a troubled teen just entering his first high school days. Dampened by a legacy of an older all-star athlete brother and a pre-existing compulsion to fade into the scenery, Lerman’s Charlie aspires to finish high school as quickly and as painlessly as possible. However, when he finds his niche with a group of outre high IQ and ambitious seniors- I praise Chbosky for allowing these so-called misfits to upend the tradition of outcasts portrayed as poor students and deadbeats- he enters into a new phase of experiences. First dances, first crushes and first steps into manhood. Yes.
Ezra Miller, whose breakthrough was as a sociopath in last year’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, gives a great nuanced performance as an outwardly carefree modern dandy masking the requisite amount of internal teenage angst. Emma Watson sheds Hermione as a luminous reformed girl-with-a-reputation. And as an aside, you just have to love a girl named Sam. Right?
The unusual beauty of Perks is that there really isn’t a bad guy. There’s just high school and all the punishment it inherently bestows.
My primary grievance is with the aunt Helen storyline. Readers will know the prominence it ultimately has. However, the movie fails to sufficiently foreshadow her import and there is no mystery that the audience grasps to discern. I suggest that it should have been beefed up to showcase the significance or cut altogether.
We all know I have horrific taste in music. That did not derail me from appreciating the 80′s set characters’ love affair with vinyl and old classics. Can someone please make me a mix tape? Those were the days. Did I cry? You know it.
On a scale of Ordinary People (7) and The Breakfast Club (9.5) I give this a sold 8.5.