Love, Simon Parent Guide
Viewers may either embrace or snub this movie about a boy named Simon struggling to tell the world he is gay.
Parent Movie Review
Broaching a sensitive subject, viewers may either embrace or snub this movie about a boy named Simon (Nick Robinson) who is struggling to explain his same-gender attraction to his friends and family. When Simon stumbles upon a social media post by another student from his high school anonymously confessing he is dealing with the same challenge, the two begin a correspondence—each using a pseudonym.
The plot builds around Simon trying to decide how and when to reveal his sexual identity, while at the same time attempting to discover the identity of his pen pal. Thanks to the way his secret friend expresses his feelings in words (almost as if they were crafted by a professional screenwriter…) Simon soon falls in love.
Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (a former clinical phycologist) and directed by Greg Berlanti (an openly gay TV and film writer, director and producer), this well-intentioned movie is carefully constructed to build the most empathy possible for the main character.
Set in a world of totally accepting buddies (Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) and a liberal-minded mom and dad (Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel), Simon’s fears about coming out seem almost unfounded. Meanwhile, his quest to find the boy of his dreams plays out like any other schmaltzy teen romance. And this is intentional. The script openly tells us that Simon has “good parents,” repeatedly reminds us that he is as “normal” as every other kid, and explains that he “deserves” a good love story.
If this pro-LGBQT message fits with your philosophy, you may appreciate the way this production preaches modern sensibilities. If you adhere to traditional values, you might dislike the way it completely ignores moral considerations. Yet with all the focus on the hero, there are other issues that get swept under the carpet of love and inclusion.
Sexual banter, crass talk and profanity, along with the use of a strong sexual expletive, are frequent. A father teases his son about masturbation and viewing pornography, while teens share brief details of their sexual experiences. A house party (held while the adults are out of town) depicts plentiful alcohol consumption and couples pairing off in bedrooms (a teen boy is seen with a teen girl wearing only her pants and bra). When an inebriated young man returns home with a female friend, his parents commend themselves for teaching him not to drive while drunk, but don’t bat an eye when the girl sleeps over in their son’s bedroom. (Maybe they aren’t as worried about STDs and unplanned pregnancies.)
The plot has some duplicitous moments too. While classmates that tease gays (by mimicking anal sex) are justifiably rebuked, there is little sympathy shown for less-explicit mocking of a transgender boy (Clark Moore) and next-to-none for a heterosexual youth named Martin (Logan Miller) who is publicly humiliated during his awkward dating attempts (perhaps because Martin is also culpable in bullying when he discovers Simon’s “secret”). In fact, it often appears the latter two characters are used to provide humor.
Love, Simon is touted as the first romantic comedy with a gay teen protagonist to be backed by a major studio (Twentieth Century Fox). Although other indie films have tackled this subject to great acclaim (for instance, Call Me by Your Name was nominated for Best Picture by the Academy Awards in 2018), most play on few screens and meet with limited financial success. Opening in wide release, this movie is shooting for commercial viability by targeting a generation that has grown up during the gender revolution. Movie distributors will be watching closely to see how a large audience reacts to this delicate topic.
No matter the outcome at the box office, there is one aspect of this screenplay kids do deserve, and that is parents who are willing to speak with them about difficult issues. If you have teens desiring to see Love, Simon we recommend you see it as well or, at the very least, be available for a discussion afterward to help your kids understand some of the important issues that were judiciously missing and/or included in this movie.Directed by Greg Berlanti. Starring Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Jennifer Garner. Running time: 109 minutes. Theatrical release March 16, 2018. Updated March 15, 2018
Rating & Content Info
Why is Love, Simon rated PG-13? Love, Simon is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic elements, sexual references, language and teen partying.
Violence: Teen characters are teased and bullied by their peers, especially over gender issues. A character blackmails another. Adults and youth say unkind and insensitive things to one another, causing hurt and embarrassment. An angry teen yells at a person who has treated him cruelly. A character mentions violent behavior (like knife fights) that occurred at her last school.
Sexual Content: Parents openly mention sexual topics in front of their children. A father teases his son about masturbating and looking at pornography. Teen characters engage in frequent sexual banter and innuendo. It is implied some of them are sexually active, and one briefly discusses his past experience. Characters struggle with revealing their sexual orientation. Male/female and male/male kisses are portrayed. A couple of boys make sexual gestures alluding to anal sex to embarrass gay schoolmates. A teenaged boy and girl seek privacy in a bedroom: it appears like the boy has removed the girl’s shirt, and she is seen in her bra. A girl sleeps over at her male friends house: his parents are not concerned about the arrangement even though they are aware the boy is drunk. A young man’s bare chest is seen after a shower. A female character wears a revealing Halloween costume. Casual relationships, adultery and divorce are mentioned.
Profanity: A strong sexual expletive is used clearly once, and muttered a couple more times. Frequent use of scatological slang, mild and moderate profanity and terms of deity. Name-calling, sexual slurs and crude anatomical terms are heard. Some slang terms for sexual acts are included.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Under-aged characters drink at a house party, several of them become inebriated. One drunk teen vomits.
Page last updated March 15, 2018
More parents' guide for Love, Simon after the break...
Love, Simon Parents' Guide
How do Simon's friends behave when he tells them he is gay? In what ways are they supportive? In what ways are they not? How would you react if he was your friend?
How do Simon's parents take the news? What emotions do they express? What possible emotions are ignored? Why do you think there are no depictions of characters who have moral objections to his announcement? If you are a parent, would your love for your child be unconditional, regardless of personal feelings?
What part does social media play in this story? How is it both used and abused? What things can you do to protect yourself from the misuse of personal information in a digital age?
How do you feel about bullying? Is it ever okay to mock others about race, religion or gender? Is society sometimes biased about the things it feels comfortable mocking, and about things it feels it needs to protect? How do attitudes, sympathies and prejudges change over time? In what ways can you show respect for others – even if they are different than you?