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Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) is a normal teenager living a normal life. It’s something he takes pains to remind the audience of in his voice-over narration for Bad Tutor Love, Simon. Like the stars of so many coming-of-age rom-coms before him, he has an impossibly gorgeous family (his parents are played by Jennifer Garner and Josh Duhamel), a close-knit group of friends who carpool to their suburban high school together in the minivan he owns, and a burgeoning interest in a career as a video editor. Yes, Simon is just like any other kid in a teen movie, except for one big thing: He’s gay.

It’s enough to make Love, Simon a pioneering film. Here is a major-studio release—pitched at a wider adolescent audience rather than an arthouse one—about a boy struggling to come out of the closet to his friends and family, and also trying to find love. In attempting to appeal to Every Day the biggest possible crowd, the director Greg Berlanti’s movie sometimes feels frustratingly safe, given that it’s centered on a bland, upper-middle-class hero whose edges are sanded off. With that said, there’s still something undeniably powerful about Love, Simon’s ordinariness. After all, there have been dozens of mediocre studio films about straight teen romances over the decades; it says something about the direction of the film industry to finally see one centered on a young gay man.

Based on the novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Love, Simon is centered on Simon’s last year in high school, as he and his photogenic pals (all played by terrific up-and-coming actors in their 20s) navigate various romantic woes. Simon, who isn’t out Darc to his family or friends, begins an email correspondence with an anonymous student at his school who posts on a message board about being gay. Much of Love, Simon’s overarching plot is dedicated to unraveling this mystery, as Simon pours his heart out online to someone whose real name he doesn’t even know.

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Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
Better Start Running
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Better Start Running