April 23, 2018
Love, Simon, already with a strong 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, was released on March 16th and is a movie that I have been anxiously awaiting since I first caught wind of it earlier this year. Back in December I read Becky Albertalli’s Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, the novel the movie is based on, and completely fell in love with it.
The story focuses on Simon Spier, a closeted 16-year-old who forgets to close a tab containing private emails between him and his internet friend Blue, another closeted student at Shady Creek but who Simon doesn’t know in real life. Martin Addison, the class clown, sees these emails, screenshots them, and uses them to blackmail Simon into setting one of his best friends, Abby Suso, up with him. If Simon failed to get the two together, Martin said he would post screenshots of his emails to the school’s Tumblr page “creeksecrets,” essentially outing him to the entire school. The book held my interest from cover to cover, and was one of those stories that you just can’t seem to put down.
That being said, I was an equal mix of excitement and apprehension when I walked into the theater to see it on the big screen. I couldn’t wait to see the characters I had grown to love come to life before me, yet I couldn’t help but worry that the adaptation wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I had already heard of some minor changes Greg Berlanti, the director of Love, Simon had made (which I wasn’t thrilled with), but they weren’t enough to keep me from seeing it for myself.
Overall, Love, Simon stayed pretty true to the book. The movie hit all of the key events on the head, and really did a phenomenal job of exploring each of the characters. There are, however, several changes that worth noting, so be warned that there are spoilers ahead.
In Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, one of Simon’s first crushes is on a boy named Cal. The two met because he and Simon are both a part of the school musical, and Simon eventually begins to suspect that Cal is Blue. Even though Cal isn’t Blue, he does tell Simon that he’s bisexual towards the end of the novel, after Simon discovers Blue’s identity.
In Love, Simon, they replaced Cal with another Shady Creek student named Lyle, who works at the Waffle House that Simon, Martin, and Abby go to to rehearse for the musical they are in together. Simon begins to develop feelings for Lyle (and suspect that he’s Blue, which is a recurring theme throughout both the novel and the book), not realizing that he’s actually straight. He does, however, discover this when Lyle tells Simon that he thinks Abby is attractive while they’re at a football game.
While on the subject of the football game, the moment Martin decides to out Simon and post the screenshots is significantly different in the book and movie. In the novel, Martin acts impulsively after he assumed Abby has feelings for Simon when he saw them hug (platonically) one day. Once he realizes that Simon is being bullied because of his sexuality, he is incredibly apologetic and remorseful and even sends Simon an email encapsulating all of this regret.
In the movie, however, Martin decides to confess his feelings to Abby in front of the entire school at the football game, even going as far as interrupting the performance of the national anthem to do so. When Abby rejects him, Martin, out of spite (since Simon had advised him to “go big or go home” prior to his confession, not paying much mind to what he had actually said), uploads Simon’s screenshots to creeksecrets, outing him and Blue to the entire school. Martin is less regretful in the movie, but attempts to smooth things over in the end. It isn’t specified whether or not Simon forgives him, though tensions obviously remain.
The most drastically different thing in Love, Simon is, without a doubt, Leah Burke’s (one of Simon’s childhood friends) feelings towards him. In the novel, their relationship is strictly platonic, and Leah secretly has feelings for Nick Eisner (Simon’s other childhood friend), who later gets together with Abby. This creates somewhat of a rift between them at first, but it later fades as she learns to accept this.
However, in the movie, she fell for Simon instead. While nothing came of this confession, I personally find it to be an unnecessary change that only complicates things and doesn’t add anything to the plot.
Despite the various differences between novel and film, I would still undoubtedly recommend Love, Simon to anyone who is in the mood for a slightly atypical romcom. The movie really brings you through every emotion possible, and does so in a way where you can’t help but empathize with the characters. So, if you don’t mind sitting through some second-hand embarrassment (because really, what high school movie doesn’t have those moments) and several tear-jerking scenes, then go buy your tickets now. It’s definitely worth your while.