Blu-ray Review: Everything, Everything

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Director Stella Meghie tapped the tween and teen demo and wound up with a modest summer hit in Everything, Everything, available August 15 on Blu-ray and DVD. Sweet performances by leads Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson make this semi-tragic romance palatable even for adult audiences. Those old enough to remember John Travolta in the '70s TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble will recognize the setup, only with a gender reversal. Maddy (Stenberg) suffers from the rare immune disorder SCID, which renders her body incapable of warding off even the most harmless of germs. She lives with her doctor mother Pauline (Anika Noni Rose) in a hermetically-sealed, Ikea showroom-like mini-apartment. Her only friends are a visiting nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera), and her daughter Rosa (Danube Hermosillo). She can't go outside or have guests (except, inexplicably, Rosa) for fear of a stray germ that could lead to a fatal infection. 
 
rsz_everything_everything_nick_robinson.jpg Whereas young Travolta's "Bubble Boy" fell in love with a neighbor girl, Maddy develops a crush on new kid on the block Olly (Robinson). They flirt as much as possible from bedroom window to bedroom window, flashing notes and eventually phone numbers. Texting becomes an obsession for Maddy as her feelings for Olly deepen. Director Meghie employs a rather clever visual alternative to the 'text blobs on screen'-style of virtual conversation by depicting Maddy and Olly together in fantasy meetings at imaginary locations. There's always a pressure-suited astronaut lurking nearby, representing Maddy's feelings of isolation from the "normal" world (and her flat-out inability to inhabit it). The meat of the story (and the aspect most likely to strike a chord with its target demo) concerns Maddy's venturing out from online writing into actual human interaction. 
 
Everything Everything Amandla Stenberg.jpg Plot developments are relatively few and far between in Everything, which effectively trades on the ability to sustain the rush of emotions felt by two teens in the throes of puppy love. Olly deals with a troubled home life, something that adds a bit of depth to too-thinly written character. A particularly important plot twist is practically scrawled across the walls, as obvious as the blunt "spoiler reviews" Maddy posts about classic literature. Honestly though, I say that as a somewhat jaded, older viewer. Again, this is a tween- and teen-oriented picture and the developments between Maddy, her mom, her nurse, and Olly have a much better chance of packing a surprising punch with that age group.

Again, its Stenberg (Rue is The Hunger Games) and Robinson (Jurassic World, The 5th Wave) that give this awkward, first-time romance story its endearing charm. Screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe adapted the teen-lit novel of the same name by Nicola Yoon. Goodloe captures the sense of teenage longing—that a crush can be the most important thing in the entire world, no matter how silly their parents may consider it—quite well, with Stenberg and Robinson embodying those feelings. And even though it does eventually get into the realm of s-e-x (this is, after all, a PG-13 movie about a boy and a girl on the cusp of young adulthood), it remains consistently tasteful and inoffensive. 

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment's Blu-ray has the following as special features: featurette "Trapped in Love: The Story of Everything, Everything" and deleted scenes. 

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Chaz Lipp is a Seattle-based freelance writer whose focus is film and music. His new jazz album Good Merlin is now available.

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