Everything Everything Review: The Girl in the Glass Bubble
Based on the best-selling novel by Nicola Yoon, Everything Everything is the latest book to film adaptation to hit the big-screen. Amandla Stenberg plays Maddy Whittier, a 17-year-old that has never stepped a foot outside her house due to a rare immunodeficiency disease. Maddy spends her days trying to live her life as best as she can. She takes classes online, watches movies, reads books, surfs the web, and is even part of an online support group where she can interact with other teenagers that have similar diseases. However, everything changes when Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.
If the premise for Everything Everything sounds familiar, it should. The vast majority of this story is a carbon copy of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble from 1976 as well as the 2001 comedy Bubble Boy. The only major changes in Everything Everything is the lead’s gender, the time period, and technology. These updates oddly enough make the film feel like more of a twisted fairy tale rather than a dramatic teenage love story.
Instead of living in a bubble, Maddy lives in a glass house where she can see the outdoors through her sunroom although she still spends most of her spare time staring out her bedroom window. People and things can come into her home because the house is equipped with a feature that sanitizes people and other objects. None of this is very interesting or makes much sense but hey just go along with it because there will be this amazing emotional payoff at the end, am I right?
Despite feeling like a carbon copy of two other films, my main issue with Everything Everything is that there is no hook to connect the audience to Maddy as a person. We are simply expected to care about her just because she is the main character with a disease. The film doesn’t even show Maddy growing up even in a montage showing. Instead, the story just jumps right into her life as a 17-year old that is about to turn 18.
Maddy’s mother and Carla are the film’s only semi-important secondary characters and we don’t learn anything about them. We learn that Maddy’s mom is a doctor and that her husband and son passed away when Maddy was a baby. That’s all we get. Carla, the nurse, gets absolutely zero character development and is simply used as a plot device to move the story along. Maddy’s love interest Olly comes from a troubled home but outside of a few short scenes of him dealing with his abusive father, that plot point isn’t explored all that much either.
Needless to say, there isn’t much for audiences to cling onto besides the whole “love at first sight” storyline between Olly and Maddy. The film consistently hints that something is going to happen with Maddy’s disorder but it doesn’t really lead to anything substantial. The love story ultimately becomes the film’s primary focus and while I wish the love story worked, it too is very bland and predictable. I kept hoping that as the film went along that their relationship would connect with me but that didn’t happen.
To make things even worse, there are huge plot holes and so many things that just don’t add up. Maddy signs up for a credit card online and without any credit gets approved for a credit card. Sure, you can get approved for a credit card to build credit but everyone knows that the card will have a very small limit on it. I don’t want to ruin any of the so-called ‘surprises’ but how much money Maddy spends on this card is unbelievable. Maddy isn’t supposed to be ‘Richie Rich’ but when you see everything she buys using this card, you would think she has an endless cash flow.
Other issues include Maddy’s mother finding a black bracelet lying around the house but can’t find certain things that her daughter purchased that should clearly be within plain sight. There are certain situations that occur which don’t make sense either including a trip to Hawaii. I also had a huge issue with the story’s grand reveal and ending but I won’t go there because it goes deep into spoiler territory.
Actress Amandla Stenberg tries to make the material work but unfortunately, her performance falls flat. Maddy cries and gets upset but it doesn’t evoke much reaction or emotion from the audience. Stenberg seems invested but her performance still feels phoned in and one-note. The same can easily be said about Nick Robinson as Olly. He tries to make the material work but there just isn’t much of anything to latch onto or care about.
I wish I could say that the two actors shared an incredible on-screen chemistry and I feel in love with their relationship but that isn’t the case. I will praise the film, however, for making the love story an interracial one. I find it shocking that we live in the year 2017 and yet there are still so few love stories in film and television that feature interracial relationships.
I want to say something positive about the film’s editing or direction but all that falls flat on its face as well. When watching the film, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a made for tv movie. Everything Everything feels like a film that you would see on Freeform or the Hallmark channel. Director Stella Meghie has only directed one other film prior to this one and sadly, it shows. Almost every shot is basic and there is nothing that standouts out in any scene that I can think of. I would even argue that Meghie has this great opportunity to show off Hawaii with some amazing scenic shots but she doesn’t make use of the setting at all. She shows Maddy and Olly swimming in the ocean but the way in which it is it’s shot makes it looks like it could be any beach in the world.
All in all, Everything Everything is a watered down modern day rehash of the Boy in the Plastic Bubble with a female lead. The film tries to be funny and dramatic yet fails to succeed at either. J. Mills Goodloe‘s script is predictable and uninteresting while Meghie’s direction is as basic as it gets. The two leads try their best to carry the film but the end result isn’t any better than a made for tv movie. As a 34-year-old man, one could argue that I am not the target demographic, but I would disagree with that as I love the genre and always have. I have a special place in my heart for teenage dramas and have recently raved about the Fault in Our Stars and Me and Earl and The Dying Girl. The sad and harsh reality is that Everything Everything is just plain bad. There is no way around it. It is just another young adult novel that should have never been brought to life on the big-screen. Luckily for Warner Brothers, the budget on this one seems low enough that even if it bombs, they should be able to make their budget back.
Scott “Movie Man” Menzel’s rating for Everything Everything is a 3 out of 10.