LOVE, SIMON: As I look back on my middle and early high school years, I find it ironic that so many girls I knew gravitated to “cute” guys who turned out to be gay. Maybe that’s the reason the teenage title character’s (Nick Robinson) two best friends (Katherine Langford, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.) don’t pick up on his sexual preference despite his “soft” good looks, love of drama and lack of romantic interest in any females. But his secret may be “outed” owing to a blackmailing classmate (Logan Miller) as well as a budding online romance with an anonymous “closeted” gay who goes by the digital name Blue. But the primary plot is really about Robinson’s (JURASSIC WORLD) coming to terms with his sexuality in a tone that fuses a John Hughes teen angst film (THE BREAKFAST CLUB) with an ABC Afterschool Special likely titled “I Think I Might Be Gay”. That’s to say that its’ subject matter is treated in a light fashion which allows for both humor and emotional depth to co-exist. There’s an unbelievably over the top homecoming game sequence which leads to the main character being forced to “come out” on anything but his own terms. The consequences of that action prompts the kind of verbal ridicule and taunts from peers that could help straight persons understand why those who aren’t may opt to keep it under wraps. While I’m somewhat skeptical that millennial teens converse with the sort of depth about occurrences that happened before they were born or like to rock out on ‘90s music the way the ones here do, I’ll at least give credit to screenwriters Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger for creating the kind of intelligent, multi-dimensional youths that I wish I had known in my latter teenage years. But unlike Miller’s (THE GOOD NEIGHBOR) obnoxious know-it-all or the vice principal (Tony Hale) who unsuccessfully attempts to be cool, SIMON succeeds by not trying too hard to get its inclusionary theme across to a mainstream audience not used to a gay teen being the center of a fairly thoughtful, romantic comedy. CRITIC’S GRADE: B

CLOSING CREDITS: Here are what I believe are the 10 best movies with gay/homosexual characters and themes (in ascending order) – 10. SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY (1971) 9. PHILADELPHIA (1993) 8. MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDRETTE (1985) 7. LONGTIME COMPANION 6. MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001) 5. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN (2005) 4. THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT (2010) 3. CAROL (2015) 2. MILK (2008) 1. DOG DAY AFTERNOON (1975)