Everything, Everything is directed by Stella Meghie and stars Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson. Based on the same basic premise as last year’s The Space Between Us, this movie doesn’t even get so clever as to come up with an interstellar reason for the separation between its young teen love interests, instead re-hashing almost exactly the old 1976 TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble which starred John Travolta.
In this go round, we have flawlessly cute teen Maddy Whittier played by Amandla Stenberg, who lives in what appears to be a perfect and immaculate Ikea home, unable to go outside but surrounded by windows and living vicariously through limited social media, books and dreams of being an architect. It is explained to us with animations and voice-overs that she suffers from SCID, or severe combined immunodeficiency, a very rare genetic disease which means she cannot risk ever coming into contact with the dirty, microbe-ridden outside world.
Despite the fact that all it takes to go into her house is a clean set of clothes and a short trip through an airlock, she has managed in her whole life to make only one friend her own age, the daughter of the very nice nurse/maid who has assisted her almost her whole life. Her mother is a doctor and has been personally caring for Maddy, her father and brother having died in a tragic accident when Maddy was very young. Especially considering this is the age of social media, her isolation and lack of any outside human contact, even through Skype or Google, really doesn’t make any sense at all. Maddy is wistful but seems determined to stay upbeat and make the best of her horrible situation. As the story unfolds, we start to see that her seemingly loving mother may not be the best influence on her life after all.
The catalyst for this is when romance enters her life in the form of Olly Bright played by Nick Robinson. He and she start communicating through their windows and then by text and, of course, eventually Maddy’s nurse helps sneak him in for a live meeting. One thing leads to another and it’s no spoiler to say that Maddy decides it’s time for her to experience the real world.
There are all sorts of things that make no sense in the setup of this movie, which makes it difficult to watch as someone who is not part of its target demographic. Like The Space Between Us, this movie is not meant for someone like me – it’s directed squarely at teenage girls who don’t mind a little nonsense while swooning over the male lead and admiring the spunky optimism of the ever-cute heroine. But I think that Hollywood may be over-estimating just how much interest there is in material this mindless these days. The Space Between Us cost $30 million to make and only made $10 million internationally, so I’m guessing we are not going to see a whole lot more of this young adult fiction turned into cinema syrup. It’s simply not a good investment and I think that’s a good thing since movies like this treat their audience like saps rather than bright intelligent people who deserve a lot better.
That’s not to say that Everything, Everything has nothing to offer. The cinematography is quite good and its really impressive how in every single scene, every set element is perfectly positioned. Makeup, hair styling, clothing are all perfectly in place. Olly’s shirts are just ruffled enough to convey that he’s just stepped out of an Abercrombie & Fitch catalog, while Maddy always looks like she belongs in a Revlon ad, even when she’s crying. I can only imagine that parents watching this come away hoping thier teens think that is the immaculate living spaces and perfectly arranged world this movie depicts will somehow rub off on their kids so they’ll at least clean their room.
In all fairness, everyone here was giving it a good effort and the acting is not as horrid as one might imagine. Where this movie really falls down is its inane script, with these actors being forced to say and do things that no teenagers really say or do. There is a very serious plot twist in the third act which sort of turns everything upside down and the characters’ reactions to that are plausible enough, but in the end this movie brings nothing new to the table and offers nothing worth spending your money on to go see. I’m giving this movie a rating of Pretty Bad. If you must see this, wait until it’s on Netflix next month.
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