The trailer and TV ads for If I Stay give the impression that you need several hankies because you are going to bawl your eyes out. Here's why: Mia Hall is finishing high school. She is an amazing cellist and is in love with a popular rock guitarist. Life couldn't be better. Her parents are the best.
Then she and her family are involved in a tragic auto accident. Mom, dad and brother die. A ghostly Mia hangs around the hospital trying to decide whether to move on or live.
Her story is told in a series of flashbacks. Back and forth it bounces as we move deeper into the details of the relationship, the family history and the tragedy.
I can see you're already grabbing for the tissues. Don't. There's more.
Chloe Grace Moretz, who is one of the more gifted young actresses of today, is Mia. Unknown Jamie Blackley plays love interest Adam. Mireille Enos (World War Z) and Joshua Leonard play her hip parents, and Stacy Keach is her grandfather.
Yes, If I Stay is sad. But not how you think. It's sad as in pathetic.
If I Stay is written by Shauna Cross, who wrote the equally pathetic What to Expect When You're Expecting, and it's directed by R.J. Cutler, whose experience behind the camera is directing reality TV shows.
That explains a lot about the disconnect between you and the film's main characters. Real people don't need a script or storytelling pacing. Movies do.
If I Stay crawls a glacial pace. Moretz and Blackley have zero chemistry. Their ho-hum relationship pales in comparison with the energy given to the movie by scene-stealers Enos and Leonard. He -- by the way -- is famous as one of the stars of The Blair Witch Project.
The two actors play happy ex-rockers who gave up all for their talented daughter and her precocious younger brother. Unfortunately, they're not in the movie enough to save it.
Director: R.J. Cutler
Stars: Chloe Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Stacy Keach
Mr. Movie rating: 1 star
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It's playing at the Carmike 10, the Fairchild Cinemas 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.