Sometimes good intentions aren’t good enough.
“All My Life” is based on a true story and follows a young couple (Jessica Rothe and Harry Shum Jr.) that must put their wedding on hold after one of them receives a cancer diagnosis. Kyle Allen, Chrissie Fit, Jay Pharoah, Marielle Scott, and Keala Settle also star while Marc Meyers directs.
In a film like this, the performances of the leads are important. Thankfully, Jessica Rothe (known for “Happy Death Day”) and Harry Shum Jr. show flashes of chemistry and charisma, with a few entertaining exchanges early on (“go on, wit me” Rothe says to him after meeting at a bar). They may not have the same sizzling partnership as Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, but they are able to come off as a real couple.
I will also give the film credit for not being manipulative. All too often with things like this, filmmakers will try to bait the audience with cheap emotional ploys, but things here feel genuine. Corny at times, sure, but never (overtly) contrived.
Unfortunately, that is about where the compliments end. The rest of the film is simply bland, thanks mostly to the screenplay. It truly never builds up any momentum, and there is never any real conflict. The pair meet in the second scene of the film and begin dating in the third, and then once Shum is diagnosed with cancer we don’t really see his mental, physical, or emotional struggles depicted in a gradual decline, like in “50/50.” There are one or two scenes where the gravity of the situation overtakes the couple, but otherwise his physically appearance never changes and if we weren’t being straight-up told the updates by the doctor we would have no idea how concerned to be.
Most of the plot focuses on the couple and their friends racing to put together a wedding while Shum is still healthy, and there isn’t any real drama or stakes there, either. Everything continues to fall into line, which is obviously great if that is how it played out for the real couple, but doesn’t make for entertaining cinema. A film like, say, “The Photograph” may seem familiar in its structure, but its camera work and backdrop (both this and that film were shot in New Orleans) keep us visually engaged; this doesn’t even give us that luxury.
Look, I am in no way this film’s target demographic. I like romantic comedies just fine (I just watched “The Broken Hearts Gallery” and found it delightful), but romantic dramas are typically hit-or-miss with me. Maybe the teenage girls looking for a good cry will find enough here to be worth their while, but I just kept thinking of better movies of similar premises. “All My Life” isn’t inherently bad, it’s just blah.
Critics Rating: 4/10