Susan Granger’s review of “Everything, Everything” (Warner Bros.)
There have been so many movies about attractive young people falling in love, while facing potentially fatal illnesses, that there’s now a new sub-genre called Sickness Porn.
Adapted from YA novels – like “The Fault in Our Stars,” “If I Stay,” “Me Before You,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” among others – its roots can be traced back to “Love Story” (1970).
The illness featured in this romantic drama is severe combined immune deficiency or SCID. Sufferers of this disease can’t make antibodies to protect themselves from infection. It was first popularized in the 1970s with “Bubble Boy” about a lad living in a purified environment.
In this sappy but sweet story – with the tagline “Risk everything…for love” – exuberant, 18 year-old Maddy Whittier (Amanda Stenberg) is an aspiring architect, despite having spent her entire life in a hermetically-sealed glass sanctuary, designed to keep her safe.
“If I went outside, I’d die,” she explains.
Despite continuous monitoring by her overly-protective mother/doctor Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), Maddy is intrigued by Olly (Nick Robinson), the boy-next-door, recently relocated from New York. As opposed to Maddy’s solid white attire, he dresses in black, rides a skateboard and arrives at the Whittiers’ door bearing a Bundt cake from his mom.
First, there are handwritten signs. Then they shyly text. Finally, there’s a meeting, facilitated by Maddy’s empathetic nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera), complete with the requisite decontamination protocol. Before long, they’re running away from Los Angeles for a Hawaiian vacation.
That’s where there’s a preposterous plot twist: an episode of myocarditis in Maui alters the diagnosis of Maddie’s condition to Munchausen’s-by-proxy and parental medical abuse, launching a disconcerting “you’re not really disabled” narrative.
Working from Nicola Yoon’s debut YA novel, scripted by J. Mills Goodloe (“The Age of Adaline”), it’s directed by Jamaican-Canadian Stella Megie (“Jean of the Joneses”), who injects several clever gimmicks, like a retro aquamarine-colored diner and Maddie’s imaginary astronaut (Sage Brocklebank).
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Everything, Everything” is a facile, foolish 4, completely losing plausibility in the third act.