A month or so ago, I had the misfortune of sitting through a horrendous film called 2 Hearts, a soggy and manipulative inspiration-porn weepie that made my want to claw my own eyes out with a soup spoon just to have something else to think about. Because of this, I entered All My Life with some trepidation.
Jessica Rothe (the Happy Death Day films) and Harry Shum, Jr (Crazy Rich Asians) star in the “true story” of Jenn and Sol, a perfect pair who fall head over heels in love. But when Sol starts feeling intense stomach pain in the middle of the night, he is rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with liver cancer. Sol battles the illness with Jenn at his side, but in December of that year, he is given the diagnosis of six months to live, making their plans for a summer wedding impossible. In a race against time, Jenn and Sol’s friends launch an online fundraiser for $25,000 to help the couple create their dream wedding in just two weeks. In the process, people around the world unleash an outpouring of generosity and attention.
Director Marc Meyers (My Friend Dahmer, We Summon The Darkness) may seem like an odd choice to direct such a film, but if you look over his filmography, he has at least as much experience with this sort of cornball melodrama as he does with the dark and disturbing. Overall, I found All My Life to be surprisingly easy to watch, but that should not be confused with a recommendation. It’s a little like successfully eating something for the first time after the flu: Just because I didn’t vomit doesn’t mean it was a memorable experience. It’s a lot better than 2 Hearts, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it good. The problem is that it’s such a simplified, phony version of the story that it feels more like a chain email, a meme or even a commercial for GoFundMe than it does a movie. And apparently, Jenn and—especially—Sol were hatched from pods, because there’s absolutely no indication that either of these two have relatives of any kind, which really jumps out at you because Sol is the only noticeably Asian person in the film.
The couple’s circle of friends plays like a focus group was assigned to watch TV until they saw enough examples of young people socializing with each other to be able put together a reasonable facsimile, complete with the one token but utterly generic black friend (Jay Pharoah, Saturday Night Live) and the bearded lady from The Greatest Showman. The latter isn’t given a character, per se, but is introduced just early enough that when she sings at the wedding we say, “Oh, that’s why she’s in this” instead of asking how much of the $25,000 went to booking Keala Settle as the entertainment, or wondering how much more Bette Midler would have cost.