Aww, little Rue is all teen’d up and ready to be all Hallmark.
Kidding aside, I have to say that while I’m pretty interested in the two young leads, this doesn’t look like it’s going to be the best flick. It looks like it’s about this young girl who has a weak immune system and is confined inside her house for the rest of her life. That is, until she meets the dashing boy next door, whom she obviously falls in love with and decides to leave the house to experience the world and possibly put herself in mortal danger. So… BUBBLE BOY (2001), but if it was a tween romantic drama.
Anywho, I said I was interested in the leads, so here they are. Our romantic focuses are Amandla Stenberg (RIO , THE HUNGER GAMES , and TV show SLEEPY HOLLOW) and Nick Robinson (THE 5TH WAVE , JURASSIC WORLD , and TV show MELISSA & JOEY).
Stenberg will forever be remembered as the young tribute girl Rue, who was cute and charming as a button. But who remembers that random, pointless, and stupid controversy surrounding her? You know, the one where “fans” of the book went the racist route and protested why Rue was portrayed by a black girl in the movie, even though Rue in the book is, in fact, black. Yeah, first off, who the hell cares? Stenberg never deserved that backlash, but thank the powers that be, there was a swift response in her defense and despite the intensity of that controversy, it was mercifully short-lived. I am happy to know that Stenberg has kept working, and if memory serves, does a lot of work as a feminist, and keeps busy in other avenues of art, like co-writing a graphic novel. That’s pretty cool.
And Robinson, arguably my favorite talent in this movie. I will forever love him as the dweebie, but well-meaning kid from MELISSA & JOEY, one of my favorite sitcoms in recent years. But I am thrilled to know that he’s done pretty well for himself outside of the show and its cancellation. I mean, JURASSIC WORLD?! That’s huge! I mean, he wasn’t the best character in the movie, but it proves my belief that he is a talented young actor. Yeah, he stumbled a tad when he was cast in 5TH WAVE, but so did everyone else, and again, he wasn’t that bad in it. I certainly wish he’d be given better roles than these damn obvious young-adult roles because he has the talent to do better things. Well, you gotta get your name out there somehow, right? I’m sure he’ll be fine in this movie, but I hope it’s not so bad that it ruins his career.
In support, we have Anika Noni Rose (THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG , DREAMGIRLS , and animated TV short series VIXEN) and Ana de la Reguera (THE BOOK OF LIFE , COWBOYS & ALIENS , and NACHO LIBRE ).
Now for the crew. Directing is Stella Meghie, known for unknown projects. Penning the screenplay is J. Mills Goodloe, known for THE AGE OF ADALINE (2015) and THE BEST OF ME (2014). Composing the score is Ludwig Göransson, known for CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE (2016), CREED (2015), WE’RE THE MILLERS (2013), and upcoming films DEATH WISH (2017) and BLACK PANTHER (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Igor Jadue-Lillo, known for THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT (2010), PASSENGERS (2008), and THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (2005).
Overall, no, I doubt it’s going to be good. I’m hoping it’ll be cute enough for what it is and the acting will elevate it a little, but I said the same thing about THE SPACE BETWEEN US (2017), so I guess I’m expecting this to be on a similar level.
This is my honest opinion of: EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING
Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) just turned eighteen-years-old, for all the good it means. Since she was young, she’s been diagnosed with SCID: severe combined immunodeficiency, meaning she can’t leave the house, lest she get severely sick from germs and quite possibly die. But her world gets turned upside down when a new family moves next door and she develops an infatuation for the boy, Olly (Nick Robinson). The two strike up a relationship that evolves over time and Maddy starts to believe that maybe dying after a short time in the outside world and experiencing all that she’s missed is more preferable than living the rest of her days inside her home only to wonder what is out there.
Oh wow. If you ever wanted to get really mad at a movie, then this is the one for you.
I think it might be fair to point out that this movie, while never ever really good, it doesn’t… objectively speaking, start off terrible, though it does touch upon a pet-peeve of mine: opening narration. All it consists of is, “This is my mom. She’s a doctor,” or, “This is Carla (Ana de la Reguera), she’s my nurse,” or literally showcases a cartoon explaining how SCID works. Thing is, there was no reason to narrate a single thing in that opening. None of what we see would require an explanation that the movie wouldn’t already explain down the road. If you’re going to narrate something, then it has to be more a more tactical reason. Like… something that the movie won’t explain at any point. That might. But that’s not the case here, and ends up ruining some emotional opportunities not long after this.
For example, despite having a morbid and sympathetic lifestyle, this opening narration renders Maddy into a pretty bland main character. Her motivations are there and Stenberg is a fine enough actress to get the emotions down, but there’s still nothing to make you completely on board with her. I understand that she’s got this condition that confines her inside her home, so it’s only natural that she’d be dreaming of what the outside would would look like. But again, that narration completely anchors down the maximum emotions that a scene could provide. We already know that this one particularly glassy room is her favorite because she already told us that she can imagine the glass disappearing and she’d be free to roam around. Imagine how much more powerful a scene could have been if we never heard that narration and we just had a quiet scene, Maddy walks into the room, and just sits quietly staring out into the wild blue yonder, her fingertips only barely touching the glass wall separating her from the outside. We would totally get it. It would be so much more of a powerful visual, but having that narration treating us like children sucks out any emotional connection. It’s wasted opportunity.
Certain characters are also introduced not in the best of lights or pointlessly. The mom, for example, you never really feel safe around her. I don’t want to make it sound like she’s creepy or anything, but she comes off as something of a bitch. Like when Olly and his sister pay them a friendly neighborly visit, offering the mom a bundt cake. But she does the following: rudely speaks in short sentences despite her polite smile. She rejects the bundt cake. Understandable, but still, she just simply says she doesn’t want it instead of explaining that her daughter would be unable to eat it because of her illness. So… yeah… bitch. And Carla barely has any role in the movie other than to be kicked out of their lives when the mom finds out that she secretly agreed to let Olly inside the house for a personal one-on-one with Maddy, risking her life. Though, to be fair, there is a funny reference when the new nurse comes around named Nurse Janet (Marion Eisman), who is very strict with Maddy’s daily routines, and Maddy nicknames her Nurse Ratchet. I admit, that had me laughing.
Unfortunately, the good moments are too far inbetween by this point, and I found myself going to sleep. I totally missed the part where Olly’s dad attacks him outside their home and Maddy runs outside to help, only to suddenly have her mom come home and fire Carla shortly after, which I did see. So… not sure how much of the movie I missed, but it’s still not a good sign to know that your movie can have you counting sheep instead of getting invested in the characters.
Some serious red flags start cropping up when Maddy and Olly take a spontaneous vacation to Hawaii. After the two run away from home and hitch that ride on the plane, I have a difficult time in believing that when the mom gets the police notified, it would take as long as it does to get those kids. Here’s what I mean, Maddy and Olly go to Hawaii and have their fun. But a flight from… where does this movie take place? Screw it, on the west coast, let’s say. That’s a five plus hour flight. I guess since Maddy’s mom is a doctor that her work hours would be long, so a flight to Hawaii starting in the morning, or even the afternoon, it wouldn’t be implausible for the two of them to reach Hawaii before she gets home, but that still begs the question where the hell the nurse is in all this. One would think the mother would almost have a rotation of nurses constantly keeping an eye on Maddy to prevent crap like this from happening, but no, Maddy was scot free. I imagine if this took place in reality, the nurse would have called the mother and would have been told to call the police. The police would have been notified in an hour or so and then would have reached out to air traffic control, the air marshal maybe, to let them know the situation, and Maddy and Olly would have been taken into custody the moment they landed in Hawaii. But nope, we need a sappy twenty minutes of runtime to make Maddy feel good about herself. Oh, and to let her have sex. That too.
And am I the only one who thought Maddy was kind of unnecessarily written as a bitch when she broke it off with Olly via Skype? I mean, he went with her to Hawaii, despite what trouble he’d get into with both his family and Maddy’s mother, and helped her when she fainted, getting her to the hospital to save her life, and then breaks off their relationship not long after. This sort of comes out of nowhere. Why was this incident in Hawaii her sudden epiphany that the two of them can’t have a future together? Why was that moment so different compared to every other moment since they met? What did she think was going to happen?
I do admit that there are at least a couple scenes that lent itself to some creativity. So by a certain point in the beginning, Maddy of course strikes up her relationship with new-boy Olly and they can only communicate through texting at first. Did anyone happen to see the Liam Neeson movie, NON-STOP (2014)? You remember those scenes where Neeson’s chatting up entire lengths of dialog through texting the bad guy? I was deathly afraid that this movie would go this route and be boring as hell. Thankfully, the filmmakers had some foresight and did something with this texting back and forth thing. You see, Maddy also has a hobby of creating models. In this case, designing restaurants and such. The first scene involving texting takes place in this imaginary restaurant while Maddy and Olly are physically talking, bringing to life the texting conversation. The dialog is definitely obvious “texting” dialog, but it works for the most part. When something meaningful is being said, Maddy and Olly are shown to be in close proximity. When she’s being defensive or otherwise withholding, she appears farther from him. It’s pretty creative and they do this for every one of their texting scenes, albeit taking place in a different setting.
So… with all this being said, it doesn’t sound like there’s anything too bad to get angry over, right? It sounds like this movie is what it is. Meant for a young-adult audience, a dumb date movie for teenagers, nothing too offensive, right?
There’s a twist in this movie. Oh yeah is there a twist. And it’s not a good one. So after Maddy gets sick in Hawaii, she goes to the hospital and then goes home, learning her lesson. Funny thing, the doctor that took care of her gave her a phone call and got it into Maddy’s head that she may not have SCID, but rather something less dire. I bet you can tell where this is going. You’re right! You are absolutely right! The mother lied to Maddy her entire life about having SCID. Why? Early on, we learned that Maddy’s dad and brother were killed in a car accident. Maddy did get sick one day, possibly due to an allergy, but then decided, “Screw this! I lost my husband and son, I’m not losing my daughter!” The obvious conclusion that any rational human being can come to? LIE AND SAY THAT SHE HAS A CONDITION THAT KEEPS HER LEASHED IN HER OWN HOME!!! But of course! That’s the answer to life’s problems! Lie and manipulate events to keep yourself from losing everything that you have, even if that means denying your child a normal life!
This twist is beyond insane. Despite Maddy’s rightful outrage and devastation, she reveals that she’ll forgive her mother in time. I have no idea why. It’s not like the mother is stable enough to warrant it. Look, people deal in tragedy in different ways. Fine, she’s protective of her daughter, but that’s no excuse for anything that she did. She’s a doctor that made up a false diagnosis in order to keep her daughter from going outside where bad things happen. Never mind how stupid that sounds, that’s gotta be all kinds of illegal that would get her license as a medical practitioner revoked faster than the speed of light. The world is harsh and cruel, and some of us don’t make it, but she denied Maddy a proper existence. Granted, she’s not a grown-ass adult in her mid-thirties, but that’s not something that can be bounced back from, or certainly forgiven for. This mother pissed me off so damn much and this twist ruined the entire damn movie.
Overall, I don’t recommend this movie. The acting’s nothing to write home about and anything positive to say about the movie, while present, isn’t enough to hold up the movie at all, or even all that worth seeing. It’s contrived, it’s sappy, far-fetched, and the ending is beyond insane that shatters any semblance of good that this movie was failing to try and go for. I really do like both Robinson and Stenberg as actors and I hope this movie doesn’t leave a negative impact on their careers and they find success in the future, but this movie should be forgotten about and never mentioned again. Maybe the tween crowd will enjoy this movie fine, but for anyone wanting to see a legitimately good young-adult romance, this isn’t the movie. I don’t even recommend it as a rental. Save your money, save your time. You’re not missing anything.
My honest rating for EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: 1/5