“Everything is Everything” ridiculous but sweet
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sexuality
Screenplay by J. Mills Goodloe, based on the novel by Nicola Yoon
Directed by Stella Meghie
Starring Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose, Ana de la Reguera, Taylor Hickson, Danube R. Hermosillo and more
Grade: Two and a half stars
Fluff is a genre, not an insult.
Sometimes, a nice little sugar-sweet movie is all you want out of the world. We should never be ashamed of wanting last-minute saves, or happy endings against impossible odds, and with how stressful life can get sometimes fiction’s the only chance you get.
But when you take fluff seriously, you have to hold it to certain standards. Not all happy endings are made the same, and there’s a world of difference between high quality fluff and something that was just slapped together. You don’t want to waste your time with inferior quality movies.
Not all happy endings are made the same, and there’s a world of difference between high quality fluff and something that was just slapped together
Whether “Everything Everything” qualifies as a quality piece of fluff is, unfortunately, a more complicated question. The sweetness of the movie is without question, and it exhibits a surprising, low-key humor at various points. On the other hand, it’s also the most ridiculous, implausible movie I’ve ever seen, and I’m including every B-list sci-fi or fantasy I’ve ever watched in my life. Watching it is the human equivalent of having a conversation with a bouncy, happy teenager, and even though you can’t help but smile at them there’s always a voice in the back of your head that sarcastically thinks “Uh huh. Sure.”
The movie starts with a young woman named Maddy (played by Amandla Stenberg) who is stuck in her house because of an incredibly severe immune deficiency disorder. If she steps into the outside world, she could catch any number of illnesses that might end up killing her. Naturally, she dreams of the outside world, which quickly comes along in the form of the cute boy who moves in next door (played by Nick Robinson). As the two grow closer, Maddy realizes that the quiet, contained life she’s accepted for so many years is no longer enough for her. The only question is, will she have to sacrifice her life to experience more?
Though the concept has the potential to be overwrought nonsense, the movie is surprisingly light and sweet. Part of that is due to the performances of the two leads – Stenberg and Robinson – and another part is due to a whimsical format that lets in plenty of room for imagination. The astronaut that serves as something of an outside commentary for Maddy was a particularly nice touch, and I wish the movie had used him more often than it did.
Still, the astronaut was only one of the ways the movie proved to be surprisingly funny. The other came from embracing the potential awkwardness of conversation, rather than turning the two teens into young poets like so many romances to. Of course, the risk of that is that the “love” story would turn into an embarrassing, painful mess, but Robinson and Stenberg brought enough charm to their roles that never happened.
What they couldn’t quite save, however, is the sugar-coated absurdity of the plot. The entire movie strains plausibility so far you can hear it snap, and though that might be the fault of the YA novel it’s based on the movie did nothing to fix the problem. The ending isn’t given nearly enough foreshadowing to make it seem like it fits organically with the rest of the movie, and even smaller details can haunt the more practically-minded people in the audience. I spent a solid half of the movie wondering what Maddy was going to do when that first credit-card bill came crashing down on her head, and anyone who’s ever flown on an airplane before is sure to have a ton of “Hey, wait a minute” questions of their own.
So, as fluff goes, this isn’t terrible. But it could be so much better.
Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers
© Warner Brothers