Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Movie Review: The Fault In Our Stars

I went into this movie with a quasi-open mind. I say "quasi" because if anything, my reverence for author/YouTube personality John Green [the dude who wrote the book the movie is based on ] made me partially biased toward liking the film regardless. Well, the verdict is in...The Fault In Our Stars isn't a horrible film, it's just jumbled mess.

Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel, a bright but cynical teenager dealing with the fallout of childhood cancer. She's on some experimental drug treatment that has saved her life thus far, but left her with some serious health problems and understandably, causes her to mope around the house all bummed out. One day at recovery group [note: ALL cinematic recovery groups need a Marla Singer type, least they turn to drivel], she meets Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort...what a name), the dashing, recovering cancer patient/manic pixie dream guy she's been secretly longing for. The manic pixie dream girl trope is turned on it's head in this case, because in The Fault In Our Stars, it's a guy who appears outta nowhere with the sole purpose of whimsically teaching/entertaining the female protagonist to change her life and force a uber dramatic character arc upon them. Great job guys. Hadn't seen that one before.

"Thought's on my soliloquy? Do share them?!" said no teenager: EVER.
Anyways, the film follows these young starry eyed teens as they deal with the two most tear inducing topics in existence, love and death. Seriously, I wouldn't be surprised if this film received secret financing from Kleenex. It's so overtly sentimental that it kind of rides a weird wave between cheesy and offensive. The Twilight fans might kill me, but the romance portion of the film is what really holds The Fault In Our Stars back. It's so cheesy and preposterous, normal humans don't speak like these kids, that it breaks my heart to say this may be more of a knock against John Green's source material than the film itself. That being said, most of the cast is pretty weak sauce, save for Woodley, who was the saving grace in last year's teen shitfest The Spectacular Now, Willem Dafoe (who's good in everything) and my homie Nat Wolf from Palo Alto who steals every scene he's in. Everyone else is pure Lifetime Movie of the Week territory. Heartthrob Augustus included.

The Fault In Our Stars does put an interesting spin on these kid's health issues. The elephant in the room with most movies is addressed front and center here, making the cancer drama elements the strongest of the film. How these young characters deal with these weighty life and death issues, while battling hormones, is what salvages this movie from being a complete cheese fest. Even then, there's still cringe worthy elements thrown in that disrupt otherwise, touching moments [SPOILER: sick girl may or may not be able to jet set off to Europe and meet a reclusive international celebrity because of illness. Boo-fucking-hoo. You're alive and that shit should be the least of your worries. Real people who can't afford legit medical care might not give a care about yo bourgeois problems: end rant]. Like I said before, the movie isn't horrible, it's just a hit-and-miss, jumbled mess.

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