Director: Stella Maghie
Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Nick Robinson, Anika Noni Rose
Released: May 19, 2017
This is a subpar movie based on a mediocre book. The only reason I was aware of the movie is because I read the book. The only reason I read the book is because I read the author's other book called The Sun is Also a Star which I really liked and that's why I decided to check out her first book. I wouldn't say Everything, Everything blatantly rips off from The Fault in Our Stars, but there are a lot of similarities. They're not just both young adult novels about two teens meeting and falling in love, but in both books the teens have medical issues, it's just one of then who has a health problem in this story while they both had cancer in Fault.
Maddie (Amandla Stenberg) is an eighteen year old girl who has SCID - severe combined immunodeficiency. If you've ever seen the Bubble Boy episode of Seinfeld then you know what it is, although while Maddie isn't confined to a bubble, she is confined to her house in Southern California (which is really nice since her mother is a doctor). Everything in the house is always kept clean, the door is air-locked, her nurse is the only person from there outside who is allowed in and she has to wash her hands thorougly before coming into the main part of the house. Despite her mother (Anika Noni Rose) being a doctor, she sure does have a lot of free time to spend with her daughter. True, technically her daughter is her patient, but something tells me she doesn't get paid for taking care of her. They spend a lot of times playing games and watching movies. In her free time, Maddie reads a lot and posts book reviews online. She takes online classes for school. She's into architecture so she builds a lot of intricate models of different buildings. I guess when you're confined to staying indoors, there's only so much you can do.
Things get more interesting when a new family moves in next door from New York and a romance soon blossoms between Maddie and the boy, Ollie (Nick Robinson). Of courser their bedroom windows face each other and Ollie writes his phone number on the window so they can start texting each other....although they use IM in the book, which is a little surprising since the book came out in 2015. Does anyone remember IM? I used to use it all the time and now I wouldn't even know how to get it on my computer. I will say the movie was clever in how they filmed the text conversations. There are a lot of these sprinkled throughout and instead of just having the literal text come up on the screen so we can read what they're talking about, they have Maddie and Ollie having a dialogue in one of Maddie's models.
I feel like if most teen guys found out that the girl they had a crush on was confined to living indoors forever and wasn't allowed to touch other people, they would find someone else, but not noble Ollie. He likes Maddie and thinks she's beautiful and he is going to pursue her. There is absolutely no chemistry between the two actors so I never bought they had this great romance. While her mother is at work (finally!), Maddie convinces Carla, her nurse, to let Ollie come over. She tells him as long as they keep a distance between them. Now does Carla stay in the room to supervise the two teens madly in love with each other (and she knows how Maddie feels about him)? No, she gives them their privacy and of course they end up standing only inches apart from each other. They end up kissing the next night when it's Carla's day off of work and Maddie's mom is at work.
In the book, there is a whole thing about Ollie's father being a drunk and angry all the time because he was fired from his previous job (the reason they moved) and taking it out on Ollie's mother. This is barely glossed over in the movie. When Maddie sees Ollie's dad pushing around Ollie, she runs outside to help him. (Really? What does she think she is going to do?) She's only outside for less than a minute and it's her first time being outside since she was diagnosed with SCID as a toddler. Between that incident and Maddie's mom finding something that Ollie left at the house, she soon finds out that her daughter has had company over and fires Carla and hires a new nurse who is super strict. Not only is Ollie forbidden to step foot in the house again, but Maddie must cut all ties with him and can't even text or speak to him on the phone anymore.
She decides that she would rather live her life despite all the consequences than not live her life at all and buys two airplane tickets to Hawaii (she applied for a credit card online). She chooses Hawaii because she wants to see the ocean. Uh....she even mentions earlier in the movie that she only lives three hours away from the ocean and has never seen it. Exactly! Why are you wasting your money on plane tickets to Hawaii when you can literally take a day trip to see the ocean? She talks Ollie into going with her and he agrees. Of course he is concerned about the health risks, but she sells him a lie that she's been taking these trial pills and they've been helping her.
We get the obligatory montage of them in Hawaii doing all the cliche Hawaiian things: going to the beach, cliff diving, dancing at a luau, roasting a pig, eating a pineapple, walking through a volcano - well, maybe not all of those were shown, but we see Maddie having a great time as she experiences being outside for the first time. The next morning after a cringe-worthy sex scene (they didn't even show anything, but it was still super uncomfortable - probably from the lack of passion since it was like platonic friends having sex...ewww), Maddie feels faint and is rushed to the hospital. Her mother is called and rushes to her side.
When we see Maddie wake up, she is back in her bed at home. Not sure how long she was in the hospital, but it was probably for a few days. Maddie knows she must break up with Ollie for good because it's not fair for him to be in a relationship with her. Her mother supports her decision and tells her she's doing the right thing.
I think now is a good time to go into spoilers, so if you haven't read the book or seen the movie and really care that much, then be warned! SPOILERS AHOY!
Perhaps you've already figured out the little plot twist. To me it was clear that there was nothing wrong with Maddie and she never had SCID. This is the most obvious when she rides on a plane from L.A. to Hawaii and is perfectly fine. Planes are just metal tubes filled with germs...they have to be a literal death trap for someone who really does have SCID. There's also the fact that she spent all that time outside on the beach and she's touching Ollie a lot. True, she does get sick, but her doctor in Hawaii tells her it's because her immune system is underdeveloped from not being exposed to outside elements her entire life. She never had a life-threatening illness. So while I did correctly predict that much, I never in my life suspected that her mother was purposely lying to her daughter for her whole life and keeping her from leaving the house. Maddie realizes this when she ransacks her mom's office looking for any documentation about her illness, but can't find any at all. Maddie's mom confesses that she had a scare with her when she was a baby and while everything was okay, she was convinced that something was wrong with Maddie and she had to protect her from everything, especially after her husband and son were killed in a car accident. (Again, something that is featured more prominently in the book and glossed over in the movie). I don't know if we were suppose to feel any sympathy for the mother (probably not since Maddie didn't seem to), but she is cray-cray! She treated her own daughter as a prisoner, never ever letting her leaver her own home! They never mention the M word, but her mother totally had Munchausen's right? I'm surprised Maddie didn't realize it being a movie buff and all. Surely she's seen The Sixth Sense, right?
One thing that doesn't make sense is that Carla tells Maddie that she always suspected that something may be up and that she thought that Maddie may have never been sick. (Though to be fair, that might just have happened in the book and not the movie; I really can't remember if we get this scene in the movie). So if that's the case, why didn't she alert the authorities? I suppose she didn't want to step on any toes, but she's a nurse and probably never saw anything really truly wrong with Maddie, so you would think she would want what's best for her and that would probably mean not being cooped up in her house all day, no matter how amazing her house is.
In the book, we see Maddie's mom going to a therapist and trying to get help, but that doesn't happen in the movie. Instead Maddie flies to New York (where Ollie has moved back to with his sister and mother) and they are reunited. I guess Maddie is going to live with him and his family now? Or are they going to get their own apartment together? Yeah, they don't really tell us what's going to happen to them, just that they're back together and we're supposed to be happy for them. So...good for Maddie, I guess? She isn't sick and she no longer has a relationship with her crazy psychotic mother.