Everything, Everything exists for one reason and one reason only: so that middle-schoolers taking their first steps into the world of dating can have something to do. Paired with mini-golf and an awkwardly omnipresent chaperone, the intended audience will be charmed by this gender-swapped update on a legacy of “Boy in a Bubble” stories. But if you are not a member of this demographic and decide for some harebrained reason to check this movie out anyway, do yourself a favor and refrain from applying any sort of logic to it. To do so is to, uh, pop the bubble of non-reality to which the plot of this harmless teen drama has been confined.
And if you’ve ever been privy to a “Boy in a Bubble” story before and you know how they typically end, you will likely find everything (everything) leading up to the third-act turn to be at worst, rage inducing, and at best, bland.
Here are the basics: Maddy is 18-years-old. For most of her life she has been unable to leave her home. She has Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, aka SCID, a disease which makes the immune system so weak that even the smallest exposure to the outside world could be fatal. Luckily for her, Mom is a doctor and has designed a sterile super-house to prevent any infection. So no, there is no bubble suit (boo), but the house itself is the Bubble. No one is allowed in or out. Well, except for Mom, Nurse Carla, and Carla’s daughter Rosa, all of whom must pass through a disinfecting chamber before entering. Presumably, anyone could do this, especially since the disinfection process is as simple as pushing a button and standing still for 5 seconds, but Mom won’t allow it.
Maddy is also not allowed to touch anyone. Well, except for Mom, Nurse Carla, and Rosa AND NO ONE ELSE, even though, I reiterate, ANYONE can step into the instantaneous disinfection chamber and be just as clean as Mom, Nurse Carla, and Rosa.
And really, if anyone shouldn’t be allowed near Maddy, it’s Mom who, as a doctor, spends all day around sick people.
So basically, Maddy’s entire existence is controlled by Mom.
Some background: Maddy’s father and brother died when she was just a baby, and it was right after that when she first got sick. She’s too young to remember it, but Mom filled her in on the details.
One day, some new neighbors move in complete with their very own Charming Troubled Boy TM. He and Maddy begin a window-based romance, which soon becomes a text-based romance, and before you know it Nurse Carla is letting Charming Troubled Boy TM inside for supervised meet-cutes. Mom catches wind of this and fires Nurse Carla. As a result, Nurse Carla should say “I disinfected him, and really, the terms of Maddy’s disease don’t make any sense. None at all. I’m not an idiot. I’m a medical professional.”
She doesn’t say that though, but it doesn’t matter because the seeds of romance have now been planted, and Maddy has run away to Hawaii with her new beau to do some romantic cliff diving to the tune of what is probably today’s hit music. I wouldn’t know because I stopped acknowledging any music after 2005 that isn’t by The White Stripes.
The leads (Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson) carry themselves with aplomb, and their romance is admittedly pretty adorable. It’s enough to propel this minor film forward, even if it moves at a decidedly sleepy pace. Cute animated sequences, as well as a novel visual device involving an astronaut stranded here on Earth demonstrate director Stella Meghie’s considerable ability to elevate a typical teen drama into something more visually interesting than it has any right to be.
And that’s probably the most frustrating thing about Everything, Everything: as far as gender-swapped takes on ‘Boy in a Bubble’ stories made entirely for middle-schoolers taking their first steps into the world of dating go, it actually wasn’t bad.
Author: Dan Scully
Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.