I feel self concious for writing two blog posts one after the other — both about movies with similar things and problems.
I recognize realistically that firstly, I don't think anyone reads these — and secondly, if someone does — I doubt me treading similar territory would be a bad thing in their eyes.
Anyways, today I wanna talk about Love Simon/Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda/Leah on the Offbeat.
I don't know what to call this group — it's not really a franchise? It's a book, it's adaptation, and the sequel book that didn't get an adaptation.
Either way, the only reason I try to find some name to give this grouping is to explain that I have this begrudging fondness for it. I get genuine joy from watching the movie, but the whole thing is — uh — I don't know how to put it other than: "it feels like it's made for white gays who like Harry Potter and Obama" ?????????????????
I'm embarassed that I like it as much as I do, I guess this is what a guilty pleasure is?
Spoilers for everything listed above from here, and I do wanna preface before getting into what I have to say, that I don't know a single damn thing about anyone that's behind the scenes of these books/movie. If they're super weirdos lemme know and I guess I'll delete this post.
I saw Love, Simon in theatres.
I didn't plan on seeing it until the day of. My best friend had been in town staying with me for a week or so, when she flew back (she lives a few states away) I — like always — got lonely after she left.
In trying to pick myself back up, I remember buying a new sketchbook and deciding to go see a movie. I had seen a preview for Love, Simon on tv — over my mom's shoulder. I wasn't interested intially because I got the read right away that it smelled like that sanitized version of queerness — but since at the time I just needed to get out of my head I went to go see it.
According to the picture I took of my ticket stub, I saw it on March 19, 2018 (at 6:15PM)
I ended up liking it more than I thought I would. I didn't think it was anything amazing, or would stick with me much — but I did nearly tear up seeing the final kiss. (I rarely have that reaction personally)
I ended up buying dvd when I saw it on shelves at the store months later, just thinking it'd be a good movie to have on in the background while I cleaned my room or whatever.
Ironically this was very correct! Since I bought the dvd I watched it a few more times, just sorta in the background writing papers or cleaning my room — but at the end of November I decided to rearrange where my couch was in my room — so I turned on Love, Simon in the background.
The whole couch moving thing didn't take as long as I expected it to (I expected to clean my room in addition, but after my 99lb weakling ass moved it — I was too pooped to do anything else) so I just ended up watching the movie on the newly moved couch.
I was more accutely aware of the problems of the movie on the watch, but also it made me wonder what the source material was like? Like — I knew it was based on a book, but I had never read it or done anything with that knowledge other than seeing it in the queer book section Barnes and Noble.
I usually don't have time to read for leasure because of classes, but I have more time to now since I'm taking off due to the pandemic — so I decided to read the book the movie is based of. I rented it as an ebook for free from my local library, and read it in less than a week (P.S. always and forever love to libraries).
The sentiment of the book being better than the movie is so overstated and stale by now — we get it! Books have more space to delve deep into concepts like character's thoughts, and feelings, and the length of a book vs a movie means things are able to grow and develop more naturally. We get it!!!
But like. Um. The book.... is... better... than the uh.... than the movie?
The movie Love, Simon is a story focused on Simon being gay, and coming out to his friends and family. The book meanwhile — while hitting the same beats — is more about Simon falling in love, and him coming out is a byproduct of him falling in love.
Lemme explain that in more actuals by comparing similar scenes.
In the movie, when Simon's friends find out he's gay — it's because Martin leaks he and Blue's screenshots onto Creek Secrets and the fallout of that is everyone being mad at him because they compare notes and realize how shitty of a friend Simon has been. In the movie's context — he did all the shitty things to stop Martin from outting him. He mentions that he's scared of Blue being scared off by it — but it feels more like he's scared of coming out and that's just an aditional shitty cherry on top.
In the book meanwhile, Simon nonchalantly tells them he's gay when he's laying on the floor of Nick's basement. It's just very casual — it's no third act climax.
There is a more comparable scene of Martin outing Simon on Creek Secrets, but in the book Martin had deleted the screenshots — and in general it's less of a big deal. It still sucks for Simon, but it's not as world shattering as it is in the movie.
But even beyond this, in the book Simon stays in the closet during the story more because of Blue than he does for anything else — again, tying into that idea that the story is more about Simon falling in love than it is about him coming out.
And hopefully thats a good enough segue to bring up: I think the things that translated the worst from the book to the movie is Bram/Blue, Leah, and the "mystery" of who Blue is.
I'll start with talking about the mystery of who Blue is, which naturally is hard for me to judge since I knew who Blue was going into the book.. so I'm not going into how hard or easy it was to guess of a mystery —more on the construction.
In the book, Simon for the whole duration (until he asks point blank) expects that Blue is Cal (the theatre kid piano player), as opposed to where in the movie Simon changes who he thinks Blue is three times.
On it's own, I have no problem with the idea of Simon guessing different people throughout the story — it's more the side effects of that choice that I'm not a fan of. The biggest being: WHY'D THEY MAKE BRAM DO THE GIRL THING AT THE HALLOWEEN PARTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This is also touching on how I think they changed Bram's character for the worse — but lets think of this story as one of those flash games where you need to balance all the sandwich pieces without them falling — right? In order for the top bun of good storytelling to fit on top, everything needs to work together to be a successfull comically tall sandwich (does that make sense?)
SO. In the book, Blue is established as being shy, studious, and sort of a loner in general. A big example of this is him staying home on Halloween, or when he talks to Simon about how he [Blue] thinks it's weird he [Simon] had girlfriends despite knowing he was gay. All these traits make for Blue feeling believable! Like it makes sense that the same kid that is fearful about coming out is the same kid who is shy — it makes sense that him being thought through means he saw no benefit in faking straight relationships.
SO THEN WE HAVE THE MOVIE, where Bram not only goes to the Halloween party — he also hosts it (instead of Garret in the book), AND he's like — caught mid hooking up with a girl?????
He plays it off later in the movie like "pssh I was drunk and it stopped like right after you closed the door" — and LISTEN — if they REEEALLY wanted to change Bram's personality for some reason — that's okay! I wouldn't have done it personally, but it's fine!
BUT THIS IS A WEIRD CHANGE.
I'm less bothered by it because of the departure from the book, and more just like a — huh????? You've known you're gay since middle school and you just because "you were drunk" you were like ;) gonna make out with a woman like HUH??
It almost seems like they decided to give Simon more of Bram's personality from the book, and vice versa. That'd make sense to me! Legit I have nothing wrong with that.
WHY HAVE BRAM GET CAUGHT LIKE THAT THO. Like if you're gonna change his character — and for whatever reason you NEED to add that scene — JUST MAKE HIM BI... IDK MAN WEIRD! WEIRD!
But anyways, I think this is one of the major problems stemming from making Simon guess at more people than Cal!!
Like the only benefit of having the caught making out scene with Bram is so Simon can stop thinking it's Bram, and move onto guessing someone else — but I think it would have worked better if he just still guessed Cal the whole time?
If this guessing thing was done to give more a major role to Bram so it's not a shock when he's Blue in the end — they could have still had him at the halloween party and had he and Simon have chemistry while in Simon's head — he's still thinking it's Cal! Like in the book, Simon thinks Bram is cute — but he doesn't question if he's Blue.... just do that!
Anyways, next is Leah.
Leah is a smoother here — like when Leah is described as fat in the book I don't think they meant "one or two sizes bigger than Abby". Moreover than that though, Movie-Leah has less interests than Book-Leah — which again like, that's gonna happen in books/movies! But it's worth mentioning that in the movie, Leah's only real interest is being Simon's best friend? While in the book she has a tumblr blog where she posts her drawings, and she shows up to Halloween party dressed as Tohru from Fruits Basket??? (which btw, killed me when I read it:)
I like Movie-Leah and Book-Leah for different reasons though — and how she's written is what makes me wonder if the Bram & Simon switch is true.
In the book, Nick feels like Simon's best friend, while in the movie, Leah feels like Simon's best friend. They've switched around traits like how in the book Nick and Simon have been friends since preschool, having added Leah to their group in middle school — but in the movie it's reversed. OR how Leah spends the night at Simon's house — instead of Abby.
But anyways, the Movie Simon & Leah friendship is very cute. I don't really like the whole "Leah had feelings for Simon" angle (and was plesantly surprised that that didn't even happen in the book), but aside from it I just love how much of best friends they are ;_;. Their relationship is so cute!! While in the book, Leah as a person just feels more real, but also her friendship with Simon is less sweet. It's like a choose your flavor sort of thing — neither is better than the other, it's just different.