PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — You may not like everything about Everything, Everything, but the question is: will you like anything?
Especially if you’re part of the teen target audience and if you buy a chancy ending that sports a well-hidden but questionable twist that some viewers will embrace while others dismiss it out of hand.
Everything, Everything is a romantic drama about Maddie Whittier, a teenager played by Amandla Stenberg, who is just turning 18 and has led a very sheltered life, never having even left her hermetically sealed house.
Why? Because she’s allergic to – well, check that title.
She is saddled with a rare immunodeficiency disease.
So how does Maddie spend her time? Well, she surfs the web, takes classes online, watches movies at home, reads her share of books, and participates in an online support group.
Because the film immediately and inevitably recalls the 1976 comedy, The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, with John Travolta, as well as the 2001 comedy, Bubble Boy, with Jake Gyllenhaal, you might think of it as either The Girl in the Glass Bubble or Bubble Girl.
Her predicament is that she meets the new boy next door, Olly, played by Nick Robinson, and it’s love at first sight.
As their bond deepens, even though they’re not allowed to touch, they communicate via text and through windows. Real windows, that is.
Maddie’s mother, the most prominent among the few secondary characters, played by Anika Noni Rose, is a doctor who somehow can afford the necessary lavish technical equipment.
But we don’t come to know the leading or supporting characters sufficiently to allow the ending to deliver the emotional payoff intended.
The script by J. Mills Goodloe, based on the best-selling 2015 Young Adult novel by Nicola Yoon, evolves into a skewed fairy tale of sorts. Character delineation could be a mite stronger, and there are a few plot holes.
But they’re balanced out by the pleasant appeal of the likable leads, which goes a long way and makes you look forward to what Stenberg and Robinson do next.
As for director Stella Meghie (Jean of the Joneses), she gets props for effectively showcasing her principal players and, refreshingly, letting the interracial love story play out without any self-congratulatory sermonizing.
So we’ll burst the bubble of 2-1/2 stars out of 4. Everything, Everything doesn’t get everything right, but enough to reward a forgiving audience.