Oh high school! Those three or four years that could arguably be deemed the worst time of life. As a new freshman, Charlie (Logan Lerman) already dreads the first day of class and the start isn’t made easier by the fact his best friend committed suicide only a few months earlier.
Introverted and unconventional in his thinking, Charlie spends most lunch hours sitting by himself. Even his sister Candace (Nina Dobrev) is too wrapped up in her relationship with Ponytail Derek (Nicholas Braun) to pay attention to her little brother. In shop class, however, Charlie meets Patrick (Ezra Miller), a high school senior trying once again to pass the freshman woodworking class. At a football game, Patrick introduces Charlie to his stepsister Sam (Emma Watson). Although the siblings are several years older than Charlie, they invite him to a house party with their friends where he gets stoned. Underage drinking, illegal drug use and homosexual relationships are all commonplace for this group that refers to themselves as misfit toys. But for Charlie, their acceptance of him as a wallflower means he finally has somewhere he belongs.
Like many high school movies, most of the actors in this cast are in their 20s. As a result, it’s sometimes hard to remember the story deals with a 14-year-old and some 17 and 18-year olds who regularly imbibe or ingest without the hint of a responsible adult anywhere in the vicinity. Even a fistfight and beating in the school cafeteria doesn’t rouse any adults.
Mr. Anderson (Paul Rudd), the English teacher, is one of the few admirable grownups in the entire script. Considering the film’s heavy themes of sexual and physical abuse, mental illness and bullying, it’s refreshing this teacher remains honorable in his actions and intentions. He is the one bright beacon in Charlie’s life and he encourages the young student by constantly challenging him to think deeper.
As their back-stories unfold, the fact that these misfits can function at all becomes increasingly surprising—especially with seemingly little family or adult support for most of them. But the revelations about their individual pasts also means they are forced to confront the events that haunt their lives.
Although the topics and depictions are often unsettling, the filmmakers shine a light at the end of the tunnel, giving the teens a chance for a fresh start upon graduation. And while Charlie still has three more years of high school ahead of him, even he is given the opportunity to put his past behind him.
Set in suburban Pittsburg in the1990s, The Perks of Being a Wallflower was originally rated R and for good reason considering the lack of consequences for drug and alcohol use, frequent sexual material and a string of crude sexual terms, innuendo and profanities. After an appeal it was awarded a PG-13 rating, but parents should be award the content likely still outweigh the benefits of spending any time with this wallflower.
Release Date: 21 September 2012 (LImited)
Content Details: Beyond the Movie Ratings...
Violence: Characters discuss a suicide, mental breakdowns and sexual abuse as a child. Characters are repeatedly and brutally bullied at school without any adult intervention. A boy slaps his girlfriend in the face after they argue. Characters are involved in risky behavior while driving. A character admits to stealing clothing from the store. A character dies in a car accident. A character is attacked and severely beaten in a school cafeteria. A character is seen covered with bruises after being beaten by his father. A female character admits to loving bulimia. A character deals with the after effect of spending time in a mental hospital.
Sexual Content: Characters dress and perform provocatively in a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Characters discuss the loss of virginity and other sexual activities in some detail. Both homo and heterosexual teen couples kiss on several occasions. Characters admit to being sexually abused as children. A boy comments on his girlfriend’s breasts. A character admits to cheating. Female characters wear some low cut clothing.
Language: The script includes numerous crude terms for sexual activity, a strong sexual expletive and frequent profanities, scatological slang and terms of Deity along with rude name-calling.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A character uses prescription medication. Teen characters repeatedly use illegal drugs and consume alcohol at house parties. A boy is unknowingly given a brownie laced with drugs. Portrayals of stoned teens are shown, often in a comedic way. A character admits to getting drunk in order to be able to offer sexual favors. Police officers find a character passed out in the snow after using drugs.
Discussion Ideas: Talk About the Movie...
What do you think Mr. Anderson means when he says, “We accept the love we think we deserve”?
How do adults use guilt to silence a child after he or she has been abused? How does that guilt affect the characters in this story as they try to make sense of what happened to them as children?
Does the lack of an adult presence in this film contribute to these students approach to dealing with life? What difference might an involved and caring parent or teacher have had on them? What positive family portrayals, if any, do you notice in this film?
How does Charlie using writing as way to make sense of his experiences?
How does Mr. Anderson connect with Charlie? What impact does his willingness to share his favorite books with the boy have on the troubled teen? Some of the books Mr. Anderson shares include To Kill A Mockingbird,The Catcher in the Rye and Walden. You can find these books at your local library or read them online.
Another teen wrestles with mental health issues in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Emma Watson is best known for her role in The Harry Potter franchise. Logan Lerman appears as the title character in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
Home Video Notes
Home Video Notes: The Perks of Being a Wall Flower
Release Date: 12 February 2013
The Perks of Being a Wall Flower releases to home video (Blu-ray) with the following extras:
- Audio commentary with Screenwriter/Director Stephen Chobsky
- Audio commentary with Director Stephen Chbosky and the cast
- “Best Summer Ever” featurette
- Deleted scenes with optional audio commentary with Stephen Chbosky