Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Everything, Everything

SPOILER ALERT: Rapunzel leaves her tower.

Imaginative and sweetly tender, Everything, Everything is a young adult romance that fulfills your feel-good needs thanks to the performance of its talented leads.  The movie follows Maddy, a girl who has stayed inside her house her whole life because she has a compromised immune system - SCID, which she illustrates for us in the opening.  Then along comes the new neighbor Olly with a bundt cake and... well, you get the idea.

I thought the movie stayed true to the YA fiction genre it came from.  The characters felt like real teenagers.  Their story felt hopeful and cutesy and touching.  Example: when Olly and Maddy finally meet in person, you see subtitles of their thoughts as they awkwardly try to make conversation.  Olly: I'm more nervous than she is and she's never even left the house! Maddy: His hair could save my life.  Funniest scene in the whole movie.

Beneath my sarcastic exterior is a giant cheeseball for a heart, and that heart bawled ugly happy tears for this movie.  The actors have wonderful onscreen chemistry and a fun, flirty friendship that develops into something bold and genuine as the story progresses.  The pièce de résistance is that it's a relationship between a white guy and black girl that NO ONE questions on the basis of their race.  I need me more healthy interracial relationships like this.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Since Maddy takes architectural classes, she frequently builds models of various structures - including a 50s diner and a several-story library that she visualizes meeting Olly in as they are having their text conversations.  I loved seeing those imagined architectural spaces on screen that allow Maddy to touch and talk to Olly in a personal interaction that she desperately desires.  In and out of those spaces walks the astronaut that Maddy also puts into every model because she identifies with a man in a suit in space.  That aspect of the film was fascinating both visually and metaphorically for me.

The movie had its faults, which my mother and I discussed afterward.  Maddy's nurse Carla has a daughter, Rosa, who is briefly introduced at the beginning but does not return until the end.  We thought it would have made more sense to include more of Rosa and to have her facilitate Olly meeting Maddy at her house rather than Carla, since a teenager is more likely to take risk like that.  I also thought that we should have seen hints earlier on about Maddy's mother being controlling and overprotective of her daughter, which doesn't come to a head until the last minute.

I mentioned to my mother that I saw a lower rating for Everything, Everything on Rotten Tomatoes, and she said: "It's very much a girl movie.  Probably it was all the male reviewers who said bad things."  I haven't checked to see if her comment is true, but it's probably true in the sense that anyone who is not into somewhat sappy teenager romance won't have much interest in this movie.  If that's not your style, it's not your style.  But if it IS your style, I think watching it is worth your while.

P.S. I totally stole the idea of a spoiler header from Maddy.  She writes several blog reviews throughout the movie and always puts a funny or cryptic spoiler at the top.  Might try doing that from now on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2

I try not to be Marvel trash.  I really do.  You would think that I'd get bored of Marvel after six or seven years, but somehow the Guardians have won me over for the millionth time.  The sequel to last year's smash hit, though not quite up to par with the original, was still funny, still zany, and still hard on the feels.  Sue me, I liked it.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Peter, Gamora, Drax, Rocket, and Groot are back to save the day.  In true Guardians fashion, one of the first scenes opens with the gang fighting a disgusting monster as baby Groot jams to the first song he plays on Peter's Awesome Mixtape Vol. 2.  Rocket reveals afterward that he has stolen the very batteries that they were protecting from the monster, and as a result the people who hired them chase the Guardians throughout the movie to get them back.  But that's not the main story.  The big reveal is when Peter Quill's father Ego (played by Kurt Russell) arrives to bond with his long-lost son and takes them to the planet that he created with his Celestial powers.  I won't go too much into the Peter-Ego relationship because (SPOILER), but just know my mind was blown by Ego's character several times.  

In line with the father-son theme, Rocket is constantly struggling with the burden of fatherhood - namely making sure that Groot doesn't get them all killed.  Wonderful and hilarious interactions ensue.  Meanwhile, Yondu, who Ego had hired to take Peter to him after his mother died, has been kicked out of the Ravagers for breaking their code and feels lost until he runs into Rocket.  They come to realize that they have more common than they think, and it's an excellent moment for both characters.  I didn't expect Yondu of all people to get me so emotional on several occasions, especially because of how crappy he was to Peter in the first movie, but he does.  And that whistling arrow is as cool as ever.

Nebula, Gamora's sister, is trying to kill her for revenge for always beating her when their father Thanos would pit them against each other.  She gives us another hint at how awful Thanos is and reveals a surprising dynamic between her and Gamora that I hope to see developed more in the future.  Drax is still not doing much, like last time, but I did love his interactions with Mantis, an alien who can feel people's feelings by touching them.  He's so blunt and she's so innocent and it makes an interesting contrast.

One of my favorite moments in the film is when Gamora mentions how Peter told her that he used to carry a picture of David Hasselhoff and tell other kids that it was his father.  Peter complains that he told her that when he was drunk and it's too depressing, but Gamora replies, "I love that story."  Ever since the first movie, Peter has had an obvious crush on Gamora and tries to flirt with her, but she shoots him down every time.  However, their conversation about Peter's childhood story reveals that if Peter stopped acting so cocky and shared more vulnerably with Gamora, she would probably be far more receptive to his romantic intentions.  The moment subtly shows men that being tough and egotistical isn't the way to win women over.  (Certainly not this woman, anyway.)

I will say that some of the humor fell flat this time around.  The movie takes shots at a few cheap jokes and of course that means that not all of them are going to get a laugh.  It's not the end of the world and it doesn't take away from the overall comedy and feel-good vibes, but I have to acknowledge it.  Aside from that, the movie had stunning space fight visuals, unexpected emotion that made me tear up at least once, and a fun comedic tone that I enjoyed thoroughly.  And I hope to keep enjoying the Guardians for several years to come.

The Marvel Trash Can. This is where I am, and this is where I'll stay.
(Source: Wikipedia)