The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Joan Cusack | Review

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  3_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Joan Cusack | Review

In 1991 a shy, high school freshman burdened with a mysterious, troubled past worries about fitting in at his high school.  He’ll settle for just one friend.  Suddenly the freshman becomes a quirk magnet, attracting all of the alternative crowd - and they’re seniors, too.  You know how that always happens.

Get ready for cassette tapes, worship for the 1982 group The Smiths, retro New Wave fashions (even in 1991 these kids were 10 years too late) and the discovery of the 1977 David Bowie song Heroes as if it were some kind of obscure hidden audio hieroglyph.  Yes, that last one threw me, too.

That’s the kind of contrivance that Wallflower is stuffed with.  This one’s NOT based on a true story, but on a best-selling Young Adult novel, so it can go anywhere that writer/director Stephen Chbosky chooses for dramatic effect.

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is the awkward soul who manages to befriend only his English teacher (Paul Rudd) on his first day of school.  Luckily there’s shop class, where Charlie encounters Patrick (Ezra Miller) a flamboyant jokester with a stylishly retro stepsister named Samantha (Emma Watson).  Charlie promptly and on cue becomes smitten.  He also becomes the group mascot of some impossibly hip upperclassmen.  Joy and angst follow in nearly equal measure.

Of course there’s an unrequited crush, subtle and overt teen cruelty, a betrayal, strife over Patrick’s sexuality, and Charlie’s Big Secret, one that comes out way too late, explains way too much too fast and is supposed to sew everything up into a neat bundle, easy for the viewer to carry - and swallow.

Strong performances by the dynamic Ezra Miller and versatile Emma Watson nearly save the day, but the “manufactured” stamp is simply too apparent to buy any of the events that happen to Charlie and the gang.  Logan Lerman is adequate and ordinary as Charlie, making the slick, group of posers’ interest in him unlikely.  They can’t be different enough standouts to suit themselves, so why would it make sense for them to adopt a mousy wallflower? And a freshman mousy wallflower at that, one who is reading the classics all summer when he’s not hangin’ with his new gang of fashion/music rebels.

Don’t blink or you’ll miss a scene with Joan Cusack as a psychiatric doctor.

From an odd title to an odd movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower takes a detour from teen behavior because it can.  The problem is, it’s about teens and their behavior.  The result is a tale that rings false and shows all of its construction scaffolding.

Sorry, Charlie.

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