It wasn’t hard to track down a still shot from “Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between” that captures how bland it is. And I needed that shot to make a point that this endless pop music montage masquerading as a “last summer before college” romance underscores.
It’s the banality of beauty incarnate.
The leads of this screen adaptation of a Jennifer E. Smith book could not be prettier, with singing/songwriting actor Jordan Fisher paired up with Talia Ryder, who gives off a sort of young Jennifer Connolly vibe.
But chemistry? Investment in their acting, interest in them as characters or a couple on the screen? Not so much.
He’s the popular hunk with a band, a thing for karaoke and loads of charisma. She’s the “new” girl who just moved back to the town she was born in, someone who has looked at her parents’ broken marriage and her follow-this-or-that-man from town-to-town mother (Jennifer Robertson) and decided she is not going through any of that.
So Aidan can turn down the charm on their first meeting — a house part — and its aftermath. Clare can see where this is going.
“I’m not looking for a boyfriend.”
No ties in high school. She has Ivy League law in her future, and no distraction or traumatic summer-before-Dartmouth break-up is going to interrupt that.
But he negotiates her into an “OK, for now,” without much friction. That’s a hallmark of this Netflix romance. Even the arguments feel watered down and banal.
They will carry on a half-hearted, musical montage romance through the school year and prove to everyone that they can be adult enough to end things gracefully and move on after that.
“The king and queen of ending things” they are, to their BFFs (Ayo Edebiri for her, Nico Haraga for him) and everybody else. Until, of course, the deadline approaches.
There’s nothing to this Michael Lewen (scripted by Amy Reed) film until well into the Big Night the smitten Aidan has planned for their final date, which he will fill with recreations of their memorable dates and lots of Big Gestures. Perhaps he’ll drop the L-bomb again to see if he can get a rise out of Clare, because she’s avoiding it.
What’s almost worth watching here — and really, this movie has little to offer teens or anybody older than tweens — are the ways Clare intentionally sabotages this romantic fairytale “change her mind” effort on Aidan’s part.
Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not cute or funny or romantic, just inviting friends in as a buffer, forcing Aidan to change plans again and again to dull the impact and foil what he expects to accomplish on their last night together .
It’s cunning in its thoughtlessness, irritating to him and gives “Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between” a few “real” moments that show promise, even if the leads can’t deliver the sparks that might set a fire.
Rating: TV-14, young love, teen hijinks.
Cast: Talia Ryder, Jordan Fisher, Ayo Edebiri, Djouliet Amara, Jennifer Robertson and Nico Haraga.
Credits: Directed by Michael Lewen, scripted by Amy Reed, based on the book by Jennifer E. Smith. A Lionsgate film for Netflix
Running time: 1:24