Usually, the disc-sleeve inside that familiar red DVD envelope from the mail gets torn open the evening after Pete the Postman slips it into your mailbox. It’s like you’re a 10 year-old all over again and Santa just came and you’ve not only got a G.I. Joe with kung-fu grip, but also a full-scale Millennium Falcon and that Play-doh, um, thing that could make either fake spaghetti or fake poop depending on which shape you picked for the dough-stuff (Mmmmm, delicious, salty play-doh) to squeeze through.
Yes, I realize now that the “thing” was an extruder and the shapes were dies, but, you know, I am *cough* 30 *cough* years older at this point. Cut 10 year-old me a little slack—he didn’t know all the things then. Honestly, it’s not like he was the only one who thought that Luke Skywalker was going save to the galaxy with his “Life Saver” and a little help from Hand “I Shot First” Solo.
Aaaaaanyway, from time to time, for any one of a host of possible reasons, that red DVD envelope will instead get the “cleaning your room” treatment rather than the “Christmas morning” treatment. For days and/or weeks, you’ll find something else to do when you could be watching it. It’s something you rationally know you should probably take time for (in the case of cleaning your room, to avoid getting yelled at, if nothing else), but you’re just not really sold on whether it’s going to be worth your time in the long run.
Which is why you find yourself thinking, “Hmmm…watch that Netflix DVD or surf YouTube for funny videos of hairless cats and adult kickball games?”
That’s how I was when The Perks of Being a Wallflower got to the house. I knew I wanted to see it enough not to send it back, but, having a vague fear of something, I kept putting it off. Truth be told, when it comes to movies that are clearly of the young adult/coming-of-age range of the spectrum, I tend to worry that no matter how touching and poignant, there’s always the chance I’ll fall once again for the ol’ cinemagraphic bait-and-switch, aka, the Dead Poet’s Society.
See, Dead Poet’s Society was originally marketed as this light-hearted thing with Robin Williams teaching at a boarding school. Mork! A teacher at a stuffy ol’ academy! Imagine the hilarity! Nanu, Nanu! At least, that’s what the trailers led me to believe.
But, um, yeah, no hilarity. There’s, carpe diem! And then Puck! Then, oh crap! And, well, Blam!
Truly, it’s a damned, fine movie. Thought-provoking. Full of spirit and motivation. One of those I’ll always stop on if I find it when I’m scrolling through the guide.
But it’s about as light-hearted as Captain Ahab.
So when I see a movie like Wallflower, I turn into a toddler who pulls his hand back after finally realizing that the trick pack of gum is going to snap his fingers every damned time. In other words, no matter what the trailers attempt to say, in the back of my head there’s always fear that it’s going to be too heavy.
For me, at least, Life is heavy enough. I want films to remind me that it doesn’t always have to be.
Last weekend, though, the Puddinette asked, out of the blue, what we had from Netflix. Luckily enough, she’d been kind of wanting to watch Wallflower. As I’ve mentioned before, the times when the two of us have an even marginal interest in the same flick are about as rare as finding a winning lottery ticket jammed into your regular Thursday lunchtime Cold Cut Combo on Italian Herbs and Cheese. You know, covered in mustard and folded over a half slice of faux-ham.
Obviously, then, we popped some popcorn and slipped the disc into the Blu-ray player.
I shouldn’t have waited on Wallflower. The characters were well-drawn and realistic, and in many ways reminded me of my own group of high school friends on the fringe. The ones that, like me, were mostly trying to survive being square pegs in high school’s round holes long enough to finally get on with being themselves in a larger, more accepting world. And while Wallflower certainly does have the gravitas I expected, it’s handled well. Instead of getting battered with the Emotional Hammer, they delivered the heavy so adeptly that I felt it without also feeling manipulated for dramatic effect.
Wow. I admitted to having a lot of feels there. Let us never speak of this again.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower did remind me that Life doesn’t always have to be heavy, even though there’s often heavy all around us. I both enjoyed and recommend it. Not only that, the Puddinette enjoyed it very much as well. And if both us liking the same movie isn’t one of the signs of the apocalypse, I’m not sure what to think anymore.
So let this be a lesson for us all: next time you find yourself treating that Netflix disc-sleeve like cleaning your room, quit dragging your feet and get to it. You might very well find that all your fears were unfounded.