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dir Scott Speer
scr Eric Kirsten
prd Jen Gatien, Tracey Jeffrey, John Rickard, Zack Schiller
with Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Rob Riggle, Quinn Shephard, Nicholas Coombe, Suleka Mathew, Austin Obiajunwa, Alex Pangburn, Tiera Skovbye, Paul McGillion, Jacqueline King, Jenn Griffin
release US 23.Mar.18, UK 30.Mar.18
Everything in our stars: Thorne and Schwarzenegger
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A trite approach renders this teen romantic tearjerker unwatchable for anyone who isn't a 12-year-old girl. It's written and directed like a smiley Disney Channel movie that shifts into weepy mode on cue. Not a single point of the plot is believable. And while the cast do what they can with the material, injecting a hint of spark, everything around them lets them down.
In rural Washington, Katie (Thorne) has grown up indoors, hiding from the sun because of a fatal light-sensitivity condition. Her mother died when she was young, so her father Jack (Riggle) homeschooled her, and she graduates on the same day as her best friend Morgan (Shephard). Out that night she runs into Charlie (Schwarzenegger), the cool guy she's pined over from her window for her entire life. As they fall in love, she waits to mention her condition, because she wants to spend a few days as a normal girl, not a disease.
The premise is intriguing, but there are far too many holes in it. She's safe outside after sundown, so why hasn't she had any social life? Why does her father impose an early curfew, when surely she has a nocturnal schedule? Why is everything on-screen picture-perfect, except when Katie's feeling ill and her hair goes suddenly flat and lifeless? Even the little side adventures are contrived and over-constructed to push the story's emotional points in specific ways.
Thorne and Schwarzenegger are ridiculously beautiful. Their childishly romantic characters vaguely come alive during a raucous teen party and a corny trip to Seattle. There's chemistry, but they never seem properly human, simply because they're so hot (when does Katie exercise, and how can Charlie consider himself out of shape when his body is ludicrously ripped?). Riggle is better in the sardonic dramatic scenes than he is with the emotion, while Shephard gets to inject some life here and there as the sassy Morgan.
From the start, it's clear that this idyllic fantasy will weave its strands into an over-crafted finale, like a feeble variation on the too-similar The Fault in Our Stars or Everything, Everything. Indeed, the story and its little revelations and twists all unfold exactly as expected, with a lot more pushy sentimentality than was required. This means that there won't be a moist eye in the house. Except for the pre-adolescent girls who still believe these silly fantasies because their only frame of reference is a dopey movie like this one.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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