Explosions, car chases and aliens are not getting you excited this summer movie season? This week, your prayers have been answered. Grab that box of tissues, gather up your friends for a night out, and get ready to CRY! You might see waterfalls of tears coming from the eyes of every teen in a 5-mile radius of the theater (and some not so teens as well).
Based on the novel, Shailene Woodley stars as Hazel – a 17-year old with cancer (I warned you crying might occur). It’s quite miraculous she has made it this far, and the prospect of death is depressing her. At the urging of several adults in her life, Hazel decides to go to a support group for teens with cancer, and meets Gus (Ansel Elgort) – the most charming 18-year old you or she have ever met.
He’s the life of the party, and she needs a little party in her life, so Gus and Hazel start to date, which leads to an adventure both across the globe and through the heart (Damn, I should write promotional copy for movie studios).
My natural instincts to experience complete revulsion when presented with young, cute movie teens in love was overcome by The Fault In Our Stars because it is a nice, charming, sweet movie (but I didn’t cry. OK, maybe one lone tear rolling down my manly, unshaven cheek).
Writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (based on the novel by John Green) win over the audience, even those of us trying to prove our manhood by refusing to cry, with great dialogue. These are two lively, charismatic characters with fantastic wit, acerbic attitudes, and honest fear about what might be laying ahead for them. Hazel and Gus break the stereotypes we expect to see after watching movies like Twilight and Divergent. Not one sullen vampire in sight! These are teens like the ones in your house and life.
While Neustadter and Weber do have a story that relies on some clichés and some traditional conventions from the Young Adult genre, director Josh Boone finds wonderful ways to leave those moments behind as quickly as possible, so we can get back to the good stuff. It’s almost like he knows the hardcore fans of the book and the genre demand those, but Boone realizes the best material lies ahead, so we forge forward. Luckily, those of us who didn’t read the book get some nice surprises throughout the movie that help make it more interesting.
Woodley is the bigger, better known actor, and she does a fine job in The Fault In Our Stars, but Elgort emerges as the star. He kind of jumps off the screen with the persona of a young Chevy Chase or any age Bill Murray with all of the funny lines and the ability to make Gus seem above it all, but he also delivers the goods when the dramatic turns begin. I have a feeling you will start seeing him more and more.
It’s fun to see engaging teens instead of brooding vampires.
The Fault In Our Stars is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, some sexuality and brief strong language.