I was a kid when John Travolta did the movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble and it broke my heart. It was years before he’d do Grease and Saturday Night Fever and become the biggest actor on this big blue bubble called Earth.
Watching the trailers for this YA novel-turned-movie made me Y-A-W-N, but I had nothing to do tonight, so my wife and I headed to the Angelika Film Center to check it out. My wife was sarcastically laughing most times during the movie, but I was surprisingly moved. Mostly because the performance by the beautiful young Amandla Stenberg was outstanding (she played Rue in The Hunger Games). Sure, they could’ve had a few less annoying voice-overs and staring out the window moments.
So, imagine if you take the movie The Fault in Our Stars, and combine it with Room and Get Out…and there ya have it.
It’s based on the Nicola Yoon novel, about a girl turning 18, who has severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) and because her immune system is so weak, she can’t leave the house. That creates some problems when the new family that moves in next door has a boy (Nick Robinson) that brings over a bundt cake. It doesn’t hurt that he looks like Johnny Depp in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?.
You have to get over the preposterous moments and plot holes and just go with this. With that in mind, I’ll continue with the story. Her mom (Anika Noni Rose of Dreamgirls) is a physician, which works perfectly. She can afford a house that looks like something out of Ex Machina, and she can help take care of her. When she isn’t there, she’s hired a nurse, played by the always welcome Ana de la Reguera (Nacho Libre). Perhaps she won’t be as strict as mommy dearest. That may lead to the couple standing next to the glass window and having their first kiss…or the rebellious teens doing a bit more. I’m certainly not going to spoil anything.
The romance is sweet. It’s nice they didn’t try to do too much with her character.
The whimsical sequences of the buildings she’s created with a lone astronaut (played brilliantly by Sage Brocklebank), add a little bit.
It gets extra points because…a lot of these movies use cheesy songs to punctuate the romance. It had that, but they were smart enough to use the terrific “Sound and Color” by the Alabama Shakes.
If I were a teenager, this would get 3 ½ stars out of 5. As a man in my mid-40s, I can only give it 2 out of 5; but hey, I’m not the target audience.
[side note: saying the astronauts performance was “brilliant” was just to make my wife laugh, because most of the time he had no lines]