Director: Josh Boone
Writers: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Ansel Elgort, Nat Wolff, Laura Dern, Mike Birbiglia and Willem Dafoe
Studio: 20th Century Fox

“The Fault in Our Stars” is the kind of movie that people make up their minds to hate. However, it triggered that “Garden State” impulse in me. If a film can present a couple in any situation that I find believable, then I’m hooked. I’m hooked to it like your elderly relatives watching soap opera and I will cut anyone that finds fault in it. Hazel and Gus would’ve come across entirely different, had this movie and book been created in the 1970s. You would’ve had one of the USC crew or a Hal Ashby type directing it and the critic clique would be slobbering all over it.

Teen literature adaptations are generally terrible, but there is always the one that sneaks through the mire. However, there is a catch. Ansel Elgort’s performance while necessary is a big detraction for the movie. He plays everything like a big puppy dog that’s using his eyes as stem cells to hopefully deflect Hazel’s cancer. Hazel is a fully realized young woman who is staring down with a grace that I’m surprised Shailene Woodley was able to provide.

That’s not a slam on Woodley’s acting ability. It’s just that it’s so rare to see a young person with the ability to get the emotional necessity of a role. While superficial viewers will dismiss her performance as yet another weepy sick teen, there’s more going on than that. This is a coming-of-age movie set against terminal illness and the ever present sense of death. Tepid nihilism in a teen movie is a tall order, but somehow Boone and company finds the right angle. If you’re avoiding the film because you think it’s another YA vapid drama, you’re missing out.

If anything, this movie has turned me around on Josh Boone and Shailene Woodley. If Boone takes over “The Stand”, then I’m thrilled and I support the push. However, I liked Shailene Woodley in “The Descendants”. That being said, I love Woodley in this film. Too often, these kinds of films are played as weepy melodramas about dealing with life being unfair. “The Fault in Our Stars” is about dealing with what your dealt and living a life well loved. Not everything goes the way you expected, but you can find support and more in those that are willing to participate in it with you. While it’s early, I’d go so far as to call “The Fault in Our Stars” one of the best movies of the Summer.

RELEASE DATE: 06/06/2014

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