On the surface, this is just another teenage "coming of age" movie but there is much more depth to this story than you would expect. Serious issues lurk in the shadows and are brought to light during the course of the film. Of course there are plenty of lighter moments as well and writer/director Stephen Chbosky brings his novel to the screen in a very natural way exploring many teenage themes simultaneously.
The cast is outstanding, led by Logan Lerman as Charlie and Emma Watson as Sam. Mr. Lerman is stunning in a complicated role as a troubled teen and Ms. Watson breaks out of the Harry Potter series in a big way in her own complex performance. Rounding out the three leads is Erza Miller (so good in "There's Something About Kevin) as Patrick, Sam's step brother and the first person to befriend Charlie in his new school. There is great chemistry between the three actors and the rest of cast. Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh play Charlie's parents but take the background graciously. Paul Rudd has a small part, playing it straight as Charlie's favorite teacher. Mae Whitman and Melanie Lynskey also have pivitol roles that drive the story.
It's hard to say more without revealing too much but I can say that while I found "Perks" to be entertaining, it is also surprising and very moving.