A Brief Review: The Fault In Our Stars

The problem with going to see the movie version of a popular YA novel on its opening night is all the YAs that will be in the audience. Five-year-olds may be annoying, but at least they 1) don’t know any better, 2) generally have parents trying to shut them up, and 3) may generally be avoided by going to see later showings of the movie. Teenagers have none of those mitigating factors, but are old enough to know rudimentary theater etiquette and to be at least vaguely aware of the existence of human beings outside their immediate social circle – in theory. In practice, they’re fucking teenagers.

So, yes, The Fault In Our Stars, John Green’s novel of a teen girl with cancer who falls in love with a teen boy with cancer, manages to be very good by virtue of avoiding many of the tropes suggested by the setup and by confronting the often bleak world these kids live in head-on, while still retaining a sense of wit and humanity. I was very curious to see whether the movie could retain the book’s strengths while shoring-up some of its weaknesses, and yes, you’re very daring for sneaking gummy worms into the theater, now could you please shut up about it already? You saved two dollars. You’re not some kind of criminal mastermind.

It was a mixed bag. Jasmine felt like our male lead, Augustus, was a bit too Manic Pixie Dream Boy for her liking, whereas I felt that was actually one of the flaws in the book the movie managed to correct, and yes, of COURSE he’s “cute.” Seriously, even if you hadn’t watched the trailer like fifty times already, this is such a surprise that you need to comment on it? Hollywood has pandering to teens down to a science; it’d be comment-worthy if he WASN’T a “hotty” and JESUS CHRIST do you REALLY need to know what Kristy thinks about this? She’s sitting nine seats away from you! If it was that important to share your trite observations in real time with Kristy, why the fuck didn’t you sit closer to her?

While losing some of the emotional nuance is inevitable, I did feel like there were some moments that could have had a lot more depth than they did. In the book, the scene where Augustus gives his grieving friend Isaac permission to smash his old basketball trophies had an undercurrent of sadness and letting go, while the movie plays it as more or less straight comedy, and YES, she KNOWS that was funny, because she laughed! When somebody laughs, you can pretty much assume they found it funny! Who the fuck cares if Kristy laughed? Maybe Kristy is sitting nine goddamn seats away from you by choice! Maybe she’s sick of your bizarre compulsion to share every thought you have the moment you have it! Maybe I’d like to have a beer with this kid and see if I can’t give her some ideas for trolling you when school starts back up!

The inevitable sad parts are quite effective, and FUCKING HELL, of COURSE that just happened! Even if you hadn’t read the Wikipedia summary so that you don’t sound like a fucking idiot when your friends talk about the book, it’s a movie about teenagers with cancer! Seriously, every teen with more than two lines of dialog in this movie has fucking cancer! Did you think unicorns were going to shit magic healing rainbows onto everybody? And for FUCK’S SAKE of COURSE your friend is sad! She’s crying! You were honestly concerned those might have been tears of joy?! AND WHY THE FUCK DO YOU CARE IF KRISTY IS CRYING?! Ask her in like ten minutes when the fucking movie is over! Are you so terrified of social deviation that you need Kristy on-hand to validate your own feelings? Or has Kristy been showing terrifying signs of emotional independence lately that require constant monitoring? I’m imagining YOU with cancer RIGHT FUCKING NOW and this movie just got a whole HELL of a lot funnier!

Recommended for SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP!