Everything, Everything: An Abridged Script

FADE IN

EXT. OCEAN

AMANDLA STENBERG floats in tranquil turquoise water.

AMANDLA STENBERG
Greetings! I look like I’m having an awesome time, don’t I? Well, this is just my FANTASY. In REALITY, I am trapped in a sterile house 24-7 because I am ALLERGIC to EVERYTHING UNDER THE SUN – LITERALLY. I would probably DIE if I went outside. I’ve been stuck here since I was a baby. Most people with my disorder die before TWO. Only my NURSE and her DAUGHTER know I even exist outside my mom. Depressed yet?

AUDIENCE MEMBER
Wait, how is it possible that you’re that sick, yet you’ve never once been to a hospital? What about things like medication and vaccinations? Why…

AMANDLA STENBERG
My mom’s a DOCTOR, okay? She takes care of all of that doctor stuff. No one seems to think it’s a breach of ethics for her to be her daughter’s only full-time physician. Logic’s not this movie’s strong point.

AUDIENCE MEMBER
Okay, then.

INT. STERILE HOUSE
AMANDLA’s MOM, ANIKA NONI ROSE cancels her night out so that she can stay home with AMANDLA for a fun night of Scrabble, keeping everything sterilzed and ironing one of her daughter’s many interchangeable WHITE SHIRTS.

ANIKA NONI ROSE
Isn’t this fun, honey?

AMANDLA STENBERG
If you say so, Mom.

The DOORBELL RINGS, and ANIKA answers it. It’s NICK ROBINSON with a bundt cake.

NICK ROBINSON
Welcome! My mom baked this as an apology for moving in. Later on, you’ll understand because she’s a battered wife, and my dad’s a complete dick.

ANIKA NONI ROSE
(recoils like he offered her a plate of dead spiders)

NICK ROBINSON
Not a fan of bundt then? That’s all right. By the way, is your daughter around?

ANIKA NONI ROSE
Well, that didn’t take long. Get out of here, you horndog. I knew that cake was just a lame excuse. You probably bought it at the corner store.

NICK ROBINSON
(makes adorable sad face; slowly leaves, while AMANDLA watches both adorably and sadly from her tower.

EXT. EVENING

NICK ROBINSON is in his house watching AMANDLA in hers. They exchange many flawless-complexioned, dewy eyed, wistful gazes. Finally, he writes his CELL NUMBER on a piece of paper and holds it up.

AMANDLA STENBERG
Well, that beats a boombox.

(texts Nick, begins adorable romance)

INT. STERILE HOUSE
AMANDLA’s day nurse, ANA de la REGUERA chats with AMANDLA.

ANA de la REGUERA
Boy, you seem perky lately. You’ve even started wearing colored tops – how’d you manage that?

AMANDLA STENBERG
Who knew it was so easy to get a CREDIT CARD online when technically no one knows you exist? How did I not figure this out sooner?

ANA de la REGUERA
This wouldn’t have anything to do with NICK next door now, would it?

AMANDLA STENBERG
We haven’t done anything yet! Just eye-flirted. Don’t tell mom.

ANA de la REGUERA
I won’t. In fact, I’ll go a step further and allow you two to meet when she’s not around, if you promise to stay on opposite sides of the room.

AMANDLA STENBERG
(crosses fingers behind back)
No problem!

INT. STERILE HOUSE

NICK ROBINSON
I’m floppy haired and good looking in a boy band androgynous way. I have a grim family secret and a dark outlook on life. Boy, you look cute all the way over there.

AMANDLA STENBERG
I’m radiant which sort of calls into question why I think I’m sick, but let’s chalk it up to first love. I want to be an ARCHITECT, which is sad because the odds of my ever leaving home are nil. I’ve never fallen in love before, but I definitely am now.

(moves a few steps closer)

NICK ROBINSON
If you could go out of the house and do anything, what would you like to do?

AMANDLA STENBERG
Go see the ocean.

(moves closer so that they are now within touching distance)

NICK ROBINSON
Well, it sounds like we’re destined to be soul mates, even after just one brief encounter.

AMANDLA STENBERG
Obviously! We’re so cute together, the AUDIENCE wants to pinch our cheeks. How could our love be wrong?

EXT. OUTSIDE NICK’s HOUSE

AMANDLA watches in horror as NICK’s BAD DAD shoves him, then runs out of the house, followed a heartbeat later by ANIKA.

ANIKA NONI ROSE
What the hell are you doing? You could die! Get back inside.

AMANDLA STENBERG
(goes back inside)
Oh, MOM, my life sucks! I don’t want to lose NICK!

ANIKA NONI ROSE
(real line)
He’s not “your Nick.”

AMANDLA STENBERG
All right, Mom. You might have a point. I will retire to my room in a bizarrely mature fashion to consider this.

She does. Then SHE and NICK BREAK UP. Then they don’t. Then they sort of do – but by this point, who’s keeping track?

EXT. OUTSIDE NICK’s HOUSE

AMANDLA STENBERG
(carrying bags)
Hi, long time, no see. Wanna go to Hawaii with me? I bought tickets online.

NICK ROBINSON
Well, now, this is a surprise. Luckily, it’s summer and I can take a few days off to go with you, so why the heck not? Jeez, this movie has more PLOT HOLES than SWISS CHEESE, but who cares?

They GO and have an ADORABLE TIME until AMANDLA collapses and is rushed to the hospital!

INT. BACK IN STERILE HOUSE

AMANDLA gets the phone.
Hello?

VOICE AT OTHER END
Hi, this is the doctor who attended you when you got sick in Hawaii recently. Your chart says you’re sick, but the odds that someone with your immune system has that DISEASE are VIRTUALLY NON-EXISTENT.

AMANDLA STENBERG
Well, that is definitely a bombshell that has just exploded everything I thought I knew. Thanks for calling!

DISTRAUGHT, AMANDLA rummages through her MOM’s HOME OFFICE but does not find anything REMOTELY RELATED to her ILLNESS. UH OH. Then right on cue, ANIKA bursts in!

ANIKA NONI ROSE
What do you think you’re doing?

AMANDLA STENBERG
I can’t find any paperwork remotely related to my ILLNESS, what’s going on?

ANIKA tries to put her off, but is finally forced to admit that AMANDLA isn’t ill at all!

ANIKA NONI ROSE
But, you must understand, your brother and father died when you were a baby, and I didn’t want to lose you, too. Plus you got sick and wound up in the ER for three days, so it’s not like I didn’t have cause to be concerned, right?

AMANDLA STENBERG
Screw you! NICK’s now in NEW YORK which is a gazillion miles from here. What are the odds, I could make it onto another plane flight?

ANIKA NONI ROSE
You could always take a train, but…..

AMANDLA STENBERG
(runs out, manages to get to NY, finds NICK and declares her EVERLASTING LOVE.

NICK ROBINSON
So you aren’t sick, after all?

AMANDLA STENBERG
Nope! Maybe one day, I’ll forgive Mom, but for now, let’s be together!

They DO.

END

 

 

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Movie Review: Everything, Everything

For a movie reviewer, there are few review-writing challenges tougher than writing a synopsis of a film where one of the major characters is gravely ill. Do you assume your readers have already read the book on which it’s based and give away the ending – because “everyone” already knows it? Or do you play it coy? In “Everything, Everything” (based on the best-selling YA novel by Nicola Yoon), the main character (Amandla Stenberg, “The Hunger Games”) a teen who has never left the house since she was a toddler because of severe life-threatening allergies, spends her time (among other things) posting online book reviews, and we get to read several spoilers. So I’ll just say right away that this review also gives away the big reveal.

It’s hard to believe Amandla (though we have no reason not to) when she informs us from the start that if she goes outside, she may well die. After all, she looks perfectly healthy when we first meet her. More interestingly, how is it that she has never once tried to sneak out – even if for just a few minutes – anyway, risks be damned? (And how is it that she seems more poised and mature than most teens who can?) But her mother (Anika Noni Rose) has warned her that she has a compromised immune system – and her mom is also a doctor. This helps explain a big question mark once we learn mom’s “secret.” It also helps explain why Amandla never uses financial means as an excuse for not doing anything – she is only encumbered by the literal four walls of her home. But all that begins to change when a cute guy her age (Nick Robinson) moves in next door and begins flirting with her via cell – a valuable communication tool that say, Romeo and Juliet, lacked. Soon enough, Amandla is enlisting her day nurse (Ana de la Reguera) to help her secretly meet Nick in the flesh. Though they are supposed to maintain a strict distance between each other, pretty soon they’re within touching distance and falling in love.

One thing leads to another, and eventually, Amandla does sneak out to meet Nick – and not just to go to the local coffee shop but all the way to Hawaii by plane. (It’s summer which helps plug that plot hole a little.) When Anika discovers her daughter’s note, she notifies the authorities, but does not strangely enough, contact Nick’s parents or put a hold on Amandla’s credit card, so the two have an amazing impromptu vacation (they appear to be the only ones in Hawaii in several scenes) in which Amandla encounters the ocean for the first time (a long awaited dream). Sadly, Amandla eventually collapses and has to be rushed to the hospital, putting an end to their fun. But a surprising phone call from a medical professional who treated her in Hawaii suddenly sets Amandla’s world off kilter. Could it be that she isn’t really “sick” at all? Yes, folks, yes indeed. If she’s a victim of anything, it’s Munchausen’s syndrome – and her mom is the one who’s made everything up. Still, she has a second chance to tell Nick that she loves him, which she promptly takes.

There’s another recently released movie about the same topic: “Mommy: Dead and Dearest,” which is based on a real-life case. In that one, the daughter rebels by meeting a guy online and eventually becoming an accessory to murder. “Everything, Everything,” is nowhere that melodramatic in plot, but it follows a predictable teen movie romance course. Amandla is as good here as she was as Rue in “The Hunger Games,” although she looks far too healthy for anyone not to have caught on to mom’s deception by now. But there’s a happy ending with both teens ending up together. I don’t know if forgiveness is ultimately in the cards for mom, but the movie ends on an upbeat note.