Everything, Everything

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MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements and brief sensuality
Alcohol/ Drugs: Medication
Violence/ Scariness: Theme of potentially deadly illness, reference to sad death, domestic abuse
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 19, 2017

Copyright Warner Brothers 2017
Copyright Warner Brothers 2017
“Everything, Everything,” based on the novel by Nicola Yoon, is an updated fairy tale about a princess trapped in a castle and the prince who does not exactly rescue her but gives her a reason to rescue herself.

It’s not an enchantment or a curse that keeps her inside. It’s an illness that means any exposure to bacteria or a virus could be fatal. Maddy (Amandla Stenberg, Rue in “The Hunger Games”) cannot remember a time when she was allowed to be outdoors.

Diagnosed at 2 with the immune deficiency SCID, Maddy lives in an irradiated and sterile environment. She has never left her home and has never met anyone other than her doctor mother (Anika Noni Rose), her nurse Carla (Ana de la Reguera), and Carla’s daughter Rosa (Danube R. Hermosillo). She has books, she has an exercise machine, she has 100 identical white t-shirts, and she has an online SCID support group. She and her mother watch movies and play phonetic scrabble. Maddy studies architecture and builds model rooms, placing the figure of an astronaut in each one. This avatar is her opposite. Her world is measured in square feet; the astronaut’s is unlimited.

Maddy stands at the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the backyard and imagines what it would feel like to stand on grass or feel a breeze of unfiltered air. And she has a seat in the corner of her bedroom overlooking the house next door, which is how she peers down at a new family moving in, a new family with a boy who has a beautiful smile. He is Olly (Nick Robinson of “Kings of Summer”). He draws his phone number on his window opposite her bedroom, and soon they are texting each other, sweetly portrayed as a face-to-face conversation at a table in Maddy’s model diner, with the astronaut looking on. She wears white; he wears black. She says, “When I talk to him, I feel like I’m outside.” But when she talks to him, she wants to go outside. And both of them find their worlds getting less black and white.

The elements of a young teen romantic fantasy are all here, primarily the disapproving parent, the utterly devoted and hunky but not too aggressive young male, adoring and supportive, and the big reason that they cannot get too physical, except maybe one perfect time. In “Twilight,” he was a vampire who could lose control and kill her. Here it’s just his normal human germs. Anyone over the age of 15 may be distracted by impracticalities and plot developments that go from improbable to preposterous, but even people who know that you have to have ID to get on an airplane and money to pay a credit card bill might just enjoy the pleasures of watching Maddy wake up to the world and Olly, through her, wake up to a few of his own.

Parents should know that this film includes risky teen behavior, some strong language, serious illness, and a non-explicit sexual situation.

Family discussion: Did Carla make the right decision? Why does Maddy put an astronaut in her model rooms?

If you like this, try: “My Sister’s Keeper,” “Before I Fall” and “The Fault in Our Stars”

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“Gothika Rule” Based on a book Date movie DVD/Blu-Ray Pick of the Week Illness, Medicine, and Health Care Romance

No Good Deed — A Twist on the Gothika Rule

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The critics screening of this week’s release, “No Good Deed,” was cancelled just hours before we were supposed to see it.  The reason: “There is a plot twist in the film that they do not want to reveal as it will affect the audiences’ experience when they see the film in theaters.”

Translation: The movie is so awful we can’t risk having it come out without a single good review.  It’s hard to believe they would have been harsher than the reactions of the critics to being excluded from seeing it. Here’s my favorite:

A couple of times a year I invoke my legendary Gothika rule — if an ending is truly terrible, I will give it away to anyone who sends me an email to ask for it. Since I haven’t seen this one, I’m going to let you guess the twist and send it to me. Give me your best ideas at moviemom@moviemom.com — if I hear from you by September 14th, I’ll send you a free e-copy of my book 101 Must-See Movie Moments.

Here’s my guess: I’m going with the full Bobby Ewing. It was all a dream.

It may be that the good deed here was allowing us to skip the film. GOTHIKA RULE ALERT: I will be happy to spoil the twist for anyone who wants to send me an email at moviemom@moviemom.com.

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“Gothika Rule”

Upcoming Show Business Memoirs

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oprah coverMashable has a very intriguing list of upcoming show business memoirs, by everyone from Oprah Winfrey (What I Know For Sure) to rapper Ja Rule (Unruly: The Highs and Lows of Becoming a Man). I’m particularly looking forward to Yes Please, by Amy Poehler (more a series of essays than a memoir), and Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir, by Alan Cumming of “The Good Wife” and Broadway’s “Cabaret.” I’m not a fan of “Girls,” but I respect Lena Dunham and would like to read her upcoming Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned”. I think I’ll skip Joan Rivers’ Diary of a Mad Diva, though. I read and enjoyed her earlier memoir, but even before last week’s distasteful controversy, it seems to me she had become more sad than funny.

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“Gothika Rule” Actors Books

Red Riding Hood

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MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for violence and creature terror and some sensuality
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking
Violence/ Scariness: Eerie, fairy-tale violence involving a werewolf, some grisly images, severed limbs, torture
Diversity Issues: Developmentally disabled character
Date Released to Theaters: March 11, 2010
Date Released to DVD: June 13, 2011
Amazon.com ASIN: B003Y5H54W

Oh, Grandmother, what a big, bad movie you have.

So, apparently what happened here is that for whatever reason director Catherine Hardwicke did not get to make the second and third “Twilight” movies, so she decided to make a different hot supernatural teenage romance triangle instead, even keeping one of the same actors in a similar role (Billy Burke as the girl’s father). Twilight may not be great literature but it sure feels like it next to this mess.

Hardwicke’s two great strengths are her background as a production designer and her skill in working with teenagers. Both desert her here. We’re in trouble right from the start, when we see the little village. Instead of evoking fairy tales or rustic, rough-hewn country construction, it looks over-produced and over-designed, like a Christmas ornament rejected by Thomas Kinkade.

The village has maintained an uneasy peace with a savage wolf. Each full moon, they leave out their choicest livestock for him, and the rest of the time he leaves them alone. But the fragile pact is broken when a girl in the village is killed. Valerie (doe-eyed Amanda Seyfried) is the younger sister of the girl who was killed. She is a spirited young woman who has been betrothed by her parents to Henry (Max Irons) but plans to run away with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). With her sister gone and the town at risk, she is not sure about leaving her parents and grandmother (Julie Christie).

Henry’s father is killed in an expedition to kill the wolf, but the hunters bring back a wolf head and prepare to celebrate. But the local priest (Lukas Haas of “Witness”) has brought in an expert (Gary Oldman), who tells them that the animal they killed was an ordinary wolf. The creature they must kill is a werewolf. That means he or she is human by day. And that means that the killer they are looking for is one of them, someone who lives in the village. Suspicion and betrayal become as critical a threat to the village as the wolf itself.

But neither as as big a threat to the movie as the inability of Hardwicke and screenwriter David Johnson to maintain a consistent tone, with drippy voiceovers (“he always had a way of making me want to break the rules”), anachronistic howlers like “Get me outta here,” and a sort of 18th century rave dance-off. The fake-outs intended to be archetypal and creepy are simply silly, and by the time someone yells, “What happened to the rabbit, Valerie!” any connection to the power of the original story is gone for good.

Those of you who know what the Gothika rule is know what to do!

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The Worst Surprise Endings in Movie History

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Huffington Post has got a list of the nine worst surprise endings in movie history (well, in the past few years). I was pleased to see three of my Gothika Rule picks on the list, “Perfect Stranger,” “23,” and “The Forgotten.” (For newcomers — the “Gothika Rule,” named for a movie with one of the worst endings of all time, means that I will give away the surprise to anyone who sends me an email to save them what I had to suffer in watching it.) Be sure to check out the comments from readers with their own suggestions. I’d add “The Pink Jungle,” “Desperate Measures,” and, of course “Gothika.” Any others?

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“Gothika Rule” Commentary Understanding Media and Pop Culture
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