Unlike recent indie darlings Moonlight or Call Me by Your Name, Love, Simon is a conscious endeavor to bring a gay storyline to a wide mainstream audience. The movie borrows a lot of DNA from John Hughes’ Brat Pack films but twists the genre with a gay main character. And while it never reaches the comedic heights or energy of a Hughes’ film, the charm and heart help the film’s so/so script.

Nick Robinson (Jurassic World) plays the likeable, ordinary, and secretly gay Simon. Simon reiterates how normal and great his life is, but his secret is starting to become a problem. He discovers another closeted student online where they bond under secret identities. Things take a turn for the worse when Simon’s online chats get discovered, blackmailed, and everything begins to spiral out of control resulting in comedic scenarios of the romcom kind.

Director Greg Berlanti is no stranger to the teen brand producing most of CW’s programming. This is Berlanti’s first directorial feature since 2008’s critically panned Life as We Know It. Berlanti brings together a likeable cast that includes his Life as We Know It’s star Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner, Tony Hale, and Katherine Langford. The ensemble is a great mix match of wonderful up and comers and veteran actors. They have fun with the fluff material spouting sometimes clever dialog, sometimes complete cheese. Doughy eyed Nick Robinson carries the movie as the titular character by being uniquely ordinary. He is a gay character that carries no outrageous attributes or stereotypes- he simply is your everyday teen in middle America suburbia. Robinson has enough charm to make the otherwise dull Simon memorable.

While the movie is purposely designed to be a conventional gay comedy compared to the more niche titles out there, it sometimes is too safe. While there are some great scenes including a choreographed dream sequence and Daniel Radcliff jokes, the humor is never as witty as other modern teen comedies like Mean Girls or Easy A. It gets so close to really shining but stays within a confined bubble that feels like a supersized episode of Glee or Degrassi. It’s a tricky balancing act trying to create a safe gay feature that is both family-friendly and edgy.

Some of the most effective scenes are the very small quirks and reactions of uncomfortable situations that are otherwise mundane. Simon’s slurred response to his dating life or his dreading facial expressions when the topic of cute girls is brought up makes the movie more authentic. It showcases the cringing situations a gay teen may have to process without making the subject matter all doom and gloom. The movie never goes into dark territories and focuses more on a teen’s fear of change, perception, and disappointment even with supportive family and friends. It keeps a common theme of discovering your identity as a teen.

Love, Simon is a big cheeseball rom-com with great intentions and heart. It’s an overused formula but the gay aspect makes it feel slightly new. It should be funnier and less cliché, but it’s so sweet you can’t help but go along for the ride. It’s a great starter kit for people that may be too apprehensive about the gay subject matter. Perhaps it’s a stepping stone in seeing more gay storylines outside artsy indie movies that come out during awards season.