Hot Take: I’ve always been worried about how cynical I am. Seeing Everything, Everything and liking it proves I’m not as cynical as I thought I was.
Everything, Everything has a far-fetched premise. Main character Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) hasn’t left the house since she was a baby because she has SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). As she turns 18 and still longs to see and feel the ocean up close, she meets new neighbor Olly (Nick Robinson) who is intrigued by the girl he sees at the window every day but never outside. Eventually, the two begin to text and even talk on the phone. Maddy doesn’t dare suggest to her overprotective mother (Anika Noni Rose) that Olly visit but instead convinces her nurse and friend Carla (Ana de la Reguera) to let Olly visit. They visit a few times and even share a kiss. One day Maddy witnesses Olly get into a fight with his father and when his father punches him, Instinctually Maddy runs outside to make sure Olly is okay. Maddy’s mom witnesses the entire thing and figures out what has been going on behind her back. No matter what mom does (even firing Carla and replacing her with a woman with the nursing skills akin to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest), it can’t stop Maddy from longing to go outside which inevitably happens… after Maddy books a flight for her and Olly to Hawaii.
Okay, that’s a good point to stop and acknowledge the plot of Everything, Everything is quite ridiculous. Based on a successful YA novel of the same name, Everything, Everything isn’t your everyday love story. Heck, it’s an interracial teen romance that has a plot so out there, the fact that they are an interracial couple isn’t even mentioned. Told inventively by putting the two together on screen while having text conversations helps keep the film moving and gives this dynamic couple as much screen time together as possible. Robinson and Stenberg’s dynamic personalities shine as Maddy’s imagination brings us into a more intimate conversation than text bubbles popping at the bottom of the screen.
Everything, Everything is essentially a gender-bent The Space Between Us which came out earlier this year. At the time I complained about The Space Between Us and some of its failings and its rip off of other films. Somehow Everything, Everything avoids these pitfalls and delivers throughout most of the film. It slips and falls in the third act but the alternatives aren’t great either. But we’re sticking around for Maddy and Olly who are, so far, the couple of the year. Plus, Maddy’s SCID feels fresh and new while The Space Between Us uses Mars as the reason why our star-crossed lovers can’t be together.
Most critics are down on Everything, Everything. Most critics are cynical curmudgeons deep down. It’s going to score big in the teenage girl demographic and with its sensible budget and small marketing spend, should be very profitable for MGM and Warner Bros. Pictures. If anything, Everything, Everything has great timing as there’s been a lack of sappy romances. This year, only The Space Between Us was an option in this category (unless you count Fifty Shades Darker which, well, why would you?). If you’re willing to overlook some obvious flaws in the name of love, Everything, Everything is a movie you should see. If you somehow can’t overlook them because you’re jaded or just too disenchanted to enjoy a cute, sappy romance with charismatic young actors, skip this one.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- Amandla Stenberg’s Face Says 1,000 Words
Stenberg’s facial expressions convey so much on the big screen. Her eyes tell a story on their own and make her more believable in her role. That becomes tougher to do as the film gets more and more far-fetched but Stenberg is up for the task.
- The Normalcy of an Interracial Relationship
I can’t think of a time where an interracial romance developed on screen and was never acknowledged as such. That’s the case in Everything, Everything and it’s great to see… or not see.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- I Don’t Know About That Third Act
Since we’re “spoiler free” here (sticking to only things already spoiled in the trailer), I can’t really go into detail about why the third act has such problems. I doubt you’ll have a hard time figuring it out if and when you see Everything, Everything but, honestly, the love story is too good to dismiss the entire movie because of one plot progression.