Charlie, a high school freshman struggling with depression and a distinct lack of friends, meets Patrick and Sam, a couple of step-siblings with whom he can finally be himself. They introduce Charlie to their extended group of upperclassmen friends, leading him to both begin to find love, experience independent life, and wrestle down his demons.
Logan Lerman of Percy Jackson fame does well here, managing to be both likable and seriously weird. Ezra Miller is outstanding as Patrick- oft-loud, flamboyant, and deeply committed to those he loves. I want him to be my best friend too. Emma Watson finally manages to shed the hair-weight of Hermione and shine as Sam. She is affecting, she is spirited, and by George, when she is sad, she is close to Kate Winslet Sad, which is, of course, on a level above normal human sadness. It seems as though filming this may have been its own coming of age story for the actors; Lerman, Miller, and Watson each seem to blossom before the eyes of the audience over the course of the movie, emerging as adult actors. Look out for Scott Pilgrim VS The World alums Mae Whitman and Johnny Simmons as well, in well-played roles pivotal to the plot.
Overall, I really liked this movie. The music was great, the pacing was much more steady than I would expect from basically a first-time director (he did one other film in 1995 that nobody ever watched), and the casting was inspired. The school dance scene near the beginning of the film is absolutely magical. That said, BEWARE: there are plenty of things discussed in this movie that you may not be comfortable sharing with your child just yet, and there should be a "trigger alert" sticker on the box. Younger kids may be upset by the violence, intrigued by the drug usage, and/or confused by the implications of Charlie's familial relationships.