"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" -- "Ordinary People" meets "Rocky Horror Picture Show?"
What's interesting here is the novelist of the book got to direct the movie adaptation. Fun!
I read the book a long time ago and really didn't remember much so as things developed it was all surprising, one surprise after another.
Some questions that came up for me included:
Why is the main character Charlie blacking out? (payoff is big here in the third act)
Why did his only friend die a year ago? (never answered)
How did his aunt die? (this is eventually explained)
Is he going to accidentally out his gay friend while he is stoned for the first time at a party? (this actually made me really nervous but this is not where the movie goes)
The three main actors: Logan Lerman (Charlie), Emma Watson (Sam), and Ezra Miller (Patrick) I had never seen before, no not even Emma Watson in the Harry Potter movies. (I can feel hundreds of mental darts being thrown at me for that.) She was okay (to me). Again I can feel the mental darts of others because all the critics I read thought she was fabulous. She was sweet. Logan was "doe" eyed innocent just fine but nothing like Timothy Hutton who was much more jittery and real in "Ordinary People." Ezra Miller who played the "Frankenfurter" of the group was my favorite. He gets to be funny though and sad and angry and confused and generous. It's a good part. See him above in the photo as the one in the tuxedo.
Mae Whitman (from tv show "Parenthood") was great as the Buddha/punk intense girlfriend. Nina Dobrev (from the tv show "The Vampire Diaries") played Charlie's sister. She was pretty bland but I think it was just the part, not her acting. She's just fine on "The Vampire Diaries."
Paul Rudd got to play Charlie's English teacher asking the class if they knew which writer came up with the term "cliffhanger"? This movie taught me the answer to that.
Joan Cusack as the serious psychiatrist was weird for me because she's just always so funny. And I know actors don't want to be typecast but still, weird....This would probably be not true if she had a larger role here where she helped Charlie's soul in some way like the therapist does in "Ordinary People" but that is not the case.
Melanie Lywinskey played Aunt Helen and she was ephemeral in ghost-like flashbacks.
The parents Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh are very peripheral so I don't have much to say about them....
One of my favorite scenes occurs when the parents are huddled over Charlie after Charlie's night out and Charlie is lying through his teeth about it. It's a relief to me that he isn't just yelled out about it.
The time period of the movie is never stated but there are no cell phones or Facebook and the characters give each other mixed tapes so I'm guessing the nineties (though the music seemed more 80s at times and the costumes more 50s).
There is a really really long list of great quotes from this movie on IMDB--which reinforces that yes, this script was really well written and is available to read here.
Here is just one of the many gems:
Charlie: Dad, can I have 30 dollars?
Father: 20 dollars? What do you need 10 dollars for?
I agree with Charlie in the movie that "Heroes" by David Bowie (the tunnel song) is a really really good song.
Postscript: I've read the book again and it is very similar to the movie. The whole book is a series of letters from Charlie to an unknown friend so it's like Charlie writing letters to the reader. The sister has a larger role here as she has some drama of her own. Charlie gets to go to the teacher's house for lunch one time. The tunnel song is different. They visit family in Ohio. Otherwise, very much the same plot-wise and a very good read.