Movie review in the Friday, Sept. 28 Oregonian....
Traumas big and small are visited on the teen characters in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" -- everything from post-traumatic stress to homophobic bigotry to kissing the wrong girl on impulse. But I walked out of the theater mostly elated, because this terrific little comedy-drama is first and foremost a celebration of the way the right high-school friendships and mentors can carry you through those traumas.
Writer/director Stephen Chbosky, adapting his own 1999 novel, employs a big-hearted but remarkably delicate touch as he follows Charlie (Logan Lerman) through his troubled freshman year at a suburban Pennsylvania high school in the early 1990s. Charlie is a painfully withdrawn kid suffering from a slowly revealed mental-health issue, but he finds social salvation in seniors Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller) -- witty and alt-stylish step-siblings who introduce him to cool music, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," partying, fanzines and assorted romantic and chemical perils.
Chbosky pole-vaults over whatever pitfalls come with adapting material this close to him. He gets great snark and sadness out of Miller (who, incredibly, can no longer be pigeonholed as the psycho-teen from "We Need To Talk About Kevin") and a wise-beyond-her-years star turn from Watson, and Chbosky allows Lerman's performance to emerge with his character's growing confidence. The movie's perfectly understated, warts-and-all sense of time and place will send any suburban Gen X-er in the audience flashing right back to their less-cautious days, when mix-tapes did heavy lifting as calling cards.
(103 min.; rated PG-13 on appeal for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight -- all involving teens) Grade: B-plus
'The Perks of Being A Wallflower' (The Oregonian, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012)