All My Life (CREDIT: Patti Perret/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Jessica Rothe, Harry Shum Jr., Kyle Allen, Chrissie Fit, Jay Pharoah, Marielle Scott, Keala Settle, Ever Carradine, Mario Cantone, Jon Rudnitsky, Josh Brener

Director: Marc Meyers

Running Time: 94 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Typical Brief Language-Related Reasons

Release Date: December 4, 2020

My biggest emotional connection with All My Life came at the very end when we saw footage of the real Jennifer Carter and Solomon Chau, the couple whose story inspired the film, as it made me go, “Oh yeah, it said, ‘Inspired by true events’ at the beginning.” In between, I had pretty much forgotten the real life aspect, as nothing particularly stranger-than-fiction appeared to be happening. Perhaps the real Jenn and Sol’s romance was just as pedestrian as what ended up on screen, although I’m sure it didn’t feel unremarkable to them. Seeing as their story caught the attention of big-time Hollywood executives, it surely must have been passionate somewhere along the way. So I kind of wish I could have watched their entire wedding video instead, because what I actually watched felt like it was written by an Algorithm instructed to create “Generic Heterosexual American Rom-Com 2020.”

Surely it didn’t have to be this way, as we have a couple of fine leads in the form of Jessica Rothe as Jenn and Glee alum Harry Shum Jr. as Sol. Rothe is of course preternaturally charming in the Happy Death Day movies, and while Shum hasn’t broken out on quite the same level as some of his New Directions colleagues, we know that he’s a bona fide song-and-dance man. Let these two kick loose, why don’t you, All My Life! What I haven’t mentioned up until this point, but what is pretty crucial to the premise, is that this story pivots on a malignant cancer diagnosis that interrupts wedding preparations. So tragedy is hanging over the whole affair, but clearly this movie nevertheless wants to be about living life – ALL OF YOUR LIFE! – while you still can.

We need to see these characters doing just that, and we also need to be able to enjoy it vicariously. Now I can’t speak for everyone, but I can tell you what I was feeling, and it wasn’t vicarious enjoyment. Rather, it was a mix of confusion, digestion (or indigestion) of banality, and just a profound sense that I’m not connecting to these people. Jenn eats Ding Dongs for dinner at one point, I guess because it’s supposed to be goofy and quirky? At another point, Jenn and Sol dance in a water fountain, I guess because Friends is part of our collective cultural memory? Eventually Sol loses his sense of taste as a side effect of his cancer treatment, and that’s a big deal because he’s a chef, and that’s one of the few moments that I genuinely understand. This movie seems to have selected its name from the “Department of Generic Titles,” but I think a better idea would have been to go with the moniker “Loss of Taste” and then set everything in motion from that starting point.

All My Life is Recommended If You Like: Generic covers of Oasis songs

Grade: 1.5 out of 5 Meet-Cutes