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Movie Review

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight—all involving teens.

Reviewed by: Curtis McParland

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
Teen Romance Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 42 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
September 21, 2012 (limited)
October 12, 2012 (wide)
DVD: February 12, 2013
Copyright, Summit Entertainment click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment Copyright, Summit Entertainment
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment

How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer

Child molestation / child sexual abuse

I think I was sexually abused, but I’m not sure. What is sexual abuse, and what can I do to stop the trauma I am facing now? Answer

child abuse—sexual

stories of sexual abuse

Does God feel our pain? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer


repressed childhood memories


GAY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality


SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

use of illegal drugs—LSD and marijuana

calling people hurtful names

death of a friend

FEAR, Anxiety and Worry—What does the Bible say? Answer

first “love”

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer
Sex, Love and Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Logan Lerman … Charlie
Emma WatsonSam
Dylan McDermott … Father
Kate Walsh … Mother
Paul RuddMr. Anderson
Joan CusackDr. Burton
Patrick de Ledebur … Senior Bully
Johnny Simmons … Brad
Brian Balzerini … Linebacker
Tom Kruszewski … Nose Tackle
more »
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Producer: Summit Entertainment
Mr. Mudd
more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment

“We are infinite.”

Charlie (Logan Lerman) is a troubled teen entering high school. He’s dreading the next four years ahead of him and is counting down the days until he graduates. He can’t forget the hard moments of his past. He had rough experiences in middle school and blames himself for the death of his aunt who died in a tragic car accident. He feels alone and isolated—that no one loves him or cares—even his own family.

DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer

What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer

Charlie has always been an outsider—the shy guy and odd one out. But all of that changes when he meets Patrick (Ezra Miller) and his step-sister Sam (Emma Watson). After Charlie initially meets Patrick and Sam, they begin to spark a friendship right away, which helps Charlie experience true friendship and even love. The spark in their friendship helps Charlie to not only open up more about his personal life, but to open himself up to the world around him.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a unique film that I personally thought I would find predictable. But it isn’t. It’s a film that takes the meaning of friendship to a whole new level, supported by strong direction, screenwriting, and performances. However, it is also filled with moments of sexual content, scattered profane and vulgar language, drug and alcohol abuse and brief violence.

But this film does display the true reality of a public high school very well: underage drinking, drug use, partying, profanity, bullying, fighting, and sexual immorality. Although the language is scattered, we still hear an f-word, about ten s-words, about ten combined misuses of God and Jesus’ names, and a few other milder profanities. Slurs are also used towards homosexuals.

There is a fight amongst a few characters, but there is no blood. We also see two brief flashbacks of a character getting into a car accident. The sexual content is the most concerning, as we see characters wearing revealing outfits, dancing suggestively at parties, making out on couches, and kissing passionately. However, there are no sex scenes. There are homosexual characters kissing each other in one scene, talk of gay sex, and plenty of sexual references. One homosexual character kisses his straight friend, but later apologizes, and there are two separate scenes of characters suggestively reenacting “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” live on stage. A character also briefly mentions that he was molested by a relative as a child.

Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) says “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Despite the morality issues in the film, that act of friendship is displayed amongst the leads in the film and sends a great message to its audience. “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8). Like most friendships, they have their ups and their downs, and Charlie and his friends do not have a perfect friendship.

Like most of my reviews, I usually provide Scripture to go along with both the positive and offensive content. Although I provided some Scripture above, I’d really like to stay focused on the positive aspects of this film, rather than the negative ones. If you’re a Christian and reading this article, I’m sure you know that sexual immorality, drug and alcohol abuse, bullying, and profanity are all part of our sin nature and go against our faith.

Friendship, bravery, true love: all these things are on display in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Although this film deals with a lot of harsh moments of being in a public high school, it still sends a powerful message. This is not a Christian film, at all, but still has a few spiritual moments, like a family saying a prayer together, etc. I don’t necessarily recommend this film, but if you or someone you know knows someone who may be feeling isolated and alone, this may be the film for them to watch. If you know of anyone who is a bully or makes fun of the “smart, quiet, or weird kid,” they may benefit from this high school comedy/drama/romance. It could be a true eye opener for some audiences, and it sure was for me.

I do advise, however, that you use discretion when recommending any film to a friend, or watching it yourself, for that matter. The source material in this movie is rough, but if you can get past the sexuality and drug content, you can get a lot out of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” Although there is a lot to like about this film, the sexuality, homosexuality, and the drug content are still big issues, so I’m still going to have to label it as Biblically offensive. The film isn’t life changing, to say the least, but it is thought-provoking and a film that some high-schoolers probably need to see in this day and age. It’s a film about being yourself, living life, and accepting someone for who they are.

”Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) (ESV).

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy—“God” (3), “G*d-damn” (3), OMG (3), “For Chr*st’s sakes,” “Jesus,” “My G*d,” “hell,” s-words (10), f-word, other slang words for sex, “b**bs,” “ass” (2), SOB / Sex/Nudity: Heavy—crude sexual comments, girl in bra, cleavage, shirtless guys, male homosexual kissing, heterosexual kissing and foreplay, talk of sexual abuse of boy by his aunt, crude song lyrics, scene with guys and girls in women’s lingerie

Teen Qs—Christian Answers for teenagersTeens—Have questions? Find answers in our popular TeenQs section. Get answers to your questions about life, dating and much more.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—This is one of the best movies that I have seen in a long time. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was directed and adapted by the author of the book and deals with the experiences of an outsider freshman to fit into the high school scene. While I am well removed from my high school years, I was not a member of the popular crowd in high school, and I could identify with the some of the isolation that the main character went through. There is no nudity or graphic violence, other than a fight scene, in the film, but it does realistically portray the issues of drug abuse, teenage sex, suicide, homosexuality, bullying, and sexual abuse, although the scenes are not prolonged or gratuitous.

There is a sprinkling of offensive language, and the Lord’s name also is taken in vain several times in one scene. However, the movie simply documents these things and does not come across as condoning them. These are things that our kids are dealing with in high school today. The acting was excellent, and the storyline kept my attention throughout the movie. The ending, perhaps, felt a little rushed, but, overall, I highly recommend this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Dave, age 58 (USA)
Positive—This is a very good movie with a lot of deep issues. It’s very well made, and, yes, it deals with people struggling with child abuse, someone mentioned below that was wrong to watch a movie for that because that is “entertainment” to watch it on those issues, it’s not entertainment, it’s a message that can help other people face their issues, too, especially when 1 in 4 are molested and mostly by family members.

The movie does have drugs, alcohol and a gay guy—his story is pretty prevalent throughout the movie—however, the main character really draws all of the attention. The acting is very good, and I think this movie helps reach out to those that feel a little odd and like they don’t fit in and deals with bullying which a lot of kids are dealing with. Certainly don’t like the drugs (although that is what teenagers can deal with), mild make out scenes and the gay guy, but there are a lot of issues that a young adult could watch this movie with their parents, and it could give a lot of room to talk about things. They even had church in there a few times, and the gay guy saying he was struggling thinking he would go to hell being gay.

I know I was in tears knowing what I went through as a child with abuse; it brought on a lot of room for good conversation. Very well made movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Amanda, age 38 (USA)
Positive—This has been one of my all time favorite books for years. The movie was brilliant and really played out the book well. I’d like to address the other comments though… I’m not a Christian and won’t pretend to be just for the review that I’m posting. THIS is what it’s like being a teenager for the majority of people in high school. Not everyone sits around getting offended by homosexuality and pre-marital sex. Though you may have been raised to believe it’s wrong, you have to understand not everyone was raised that way, and it’s honestly a wonderful movie, because it shows a more realistic view point into high school situations, unlike shows such as “Victorious.”

THIS is the perfect movie for teenagers of all religions to go see. It will just help everyone understand the reality of being a teenager facing depression. They didn’t put the sexual experimentation in the movie just to show their support of gay marriage, like most movie directors do. They did it to just show the truth of what many people face daily. Put your beliefs aside for one day, and open your heart to teenagers who face issues and situations like these daily. Stop blowing up on kids for trying to find them [sic] true selves and just understand who they are and appreciate this wonderful movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
—Alexx Lanell (an agnostic), age 21 (USA)
Negative—I read this book last summer in preparation for the film’s release and was utterly disgusted by its pretentious attempts to jam every possible young adult “problem” into one book (homosexuality, sexual experimentation, masturbation, rape, molestation, and abortion). The film softens some of the horrors of the novel, but still presents the same straightforward hopelessness that a life without God offers. One can’t watch (or read) these stories without feeling enormous sadness at the misery and total emptiness of these children’s lives.

All the same, it asks us to make child sexual abuse and recovery our “entertainment.” Its main character struggles through emotional issues, depression, thoughts of suicide, and sexual experimentation (once, he locks lips with his gay best friend), while a few reasonably sound pieces of advice (such as “we accept the love we think we deserve”) entwine with the promiscuous behavior, underage drinking, and drug use. The R-rated book was softened into a PG-13 (by leaving out the sister’s abortion, and beatings by her boyfriend, a rape Charlie stands by and witnesses, and many references to sex, not to mention the multitude of f-words in the novel)—but still left a bad taste in my mouth.

From a Christian perspective, it simply felt… empty.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Charity, age 29 (USA)

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