Standing with the Wallflowers on the Island of Misfit Toys (and the Perks therein)

I was the perennial wallflower. I didn't make friends easily, and when I did go out with the friends I had, I was often the one simply observing what was happening around me instead of being an active participant.

I never imagined there was any reason for my actions outside of typical teenage shyness. I was in my 20's before we discovered there was more to it than I ever imagined - severe depression, general anxiety disorder, and severe social anxiety disorder.

What looks to be a simple coming-of-age tale in a 2-minute preview becomes a full-length film touching on difficult topics in Perks of Being of a Wallflower. This is made evident in the opening scenes as we find main protagonist Charlie in a mental hospital at the ripe-old age of 14.

Over the next couple of hours, we watch Charlie come home, start high school, meet friends and come out of his shell, and then slowly, ever-so-slowly, we watch him spiral back into the darkness that put him in the hospital at the beginning. And ever-so-slowly, the truth is revealed.

Charlie's story resonated with me, because like Charlie, my depression didn't start at the same time that all the bad stuff did. For years, I dealt with various trials and tribulations with a stoic attitude. My history was told in matter-of-fact manner, as if I were teaching a classroom of students.

Like Charlie, it was when the world was looking up, when life seemed to be improving, that the floor dropped out from under my feet.

And like Charlie, it was several years before the root of my depression and anxiety was fully understood. In my effort to cope, I'd buried things deep in the recesses of my mind.

While dealing with very sobering events, Perks is not a depressing film. No, it's a heartwarming tale of family and friendship, wrapping around the struggles of a young man who is trying so desperately to maintain a strong outer armor. The scenes that make you shudder, the scenes that make you wince or cry, are all mixed in with laughter, smiles and cheers.  You will find yourself pulling for Charlie, even when he screws up - which he does, monumentally.

When I started writing this review, I intended to break down scenes and tell you what I though about them. But as I started writing, I realized that I wanted to do things a little differently this time. The above words are all I'm giving you. Want to know more? Go watch Perks of Being a Wallflower. I believe the impact of the movie is made greater when you know as little of the story as possible.