The Beach House (2020) | SHUDDER
Expectations for the Netflix Original All Together Now went from barely existent to relatively high once the knowledge of the director crossed my path. As a huge fan of the independent dramedy Hearts Beat Loud, so much so that I own a signed vinyl of the film’s soundtrack, my hopes for All Together Now was to have sincerity and heart be delivered to my doorstop. For the most part, All Together Now took me by surprise, and while it doesn’t match up to the expectations I had set, I don’t regret giving this one a chance.
Directed by Brett Haley, All Together Now plays out like a typical teenage drama, with a teen set to go far but her daily internal struggles cause her to rethink everything she’s working for. Haley isn’t unfamiliar with teen centric dramas; directing Netflix’s All The Bright Places and Hearts Beat Loud, this director knows how to lead you down a formulaic teenage drama only to spring one or two twists upon the audience. Not all of the twists really shock like they should, but the reaction from our characters seem genuine, which is something that Haley is able to conjure up easily, most notably the father/daughter relationship between Offerman and Clemons in Hearts Beat Loud. To say I was disappointed in this film wouldn’t entirely be true, at least not in the direction of the feature. While I didn’t love the simplicity of it all, Haley manufactured an honest, yet sometimes annoying, telling of a teenager afraid to accept help.
The story follows Amber Appleton (Auli’i Cravalho) as she attempts to keep a big secret from all her friends: that she’s homeless and living on a school bus with her alcoholic mother. After a tragedy strikes, she is forced to open up about her situation, but that doesn’t include opening up to outsider help. I thought the lead being a homeless teenager hoping to move up in the world through her passion in music was a fantastic way to start to film, however as the film unwinds I began to lose interest as the film dove deep into predictability. While making your heart flutter with heartwarming gestures towards the advancement of our lead, it’s her own consistent reluctance to accept that makes the film become tiresome.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The strongest attribute All Together Now has is its lead, and while her negativity towards receiving help may seem both concerning and annoying as it reoccurs frequently in the film, her portrayal and later acceptance of people’s genuine assistance makes for an intriguing protagonist. With that being said, her story of being a musician ready to audition is neglected throughout beyond a scene or two addressing her need/desire to complete this audition. The film circles these scenes with friends and colleagues offering to help her in any way possible. The cast of supporting characters are fine, yet none stand out as anything special beyond the usual teen drama characters we have seen time and time again. The acting and characters are acceptable, but almost everything in the plot is easy to predict, making for a good amount of eye roll moments when they should be seen as sincere emotional cues.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
'All Together Now' Took Me By Surprise
Visually there wasn’t much to look at. The film felt excruciatingly simple, with only one road trip scene to get to a “vacation” home for the weekend that stood out amongst the rest, but even that was barebones. The rest of the film took place in a bland school, a colorless classroom, or a forgettable house. The sets certainly weren’t meant to stand out, probably to drive you to care more for the characters than the places they reside, but there’s certainly some desires left unfulfilled.
All Together Now (2020) | NETFLIX
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
As the premise describes “high schooler with musical aspirations,” you’d think that the film would drive home the fact that these characters had a strong interest in music. However, the lead who receives an audition of a lifetime doesn’t display her musical talents beyond two separate occasions and with Auli’i Cravalho having a past as a Disney Princess, I expected more musical undertones. Albeit the song displayed within the “vacation” home was beautiful, catchy, and exactly what should have driven the film towards its climatic end.
After a solid start, Brett Haley’s All Together Now becomes a tiresome teenage drama trying to convey a very sincere message about opening yourself up and accepting help. While the message does finally come across in the end, by witnessing this young woman try to make it on her own, only to be ambushed, quite literally with kindness. All Together Now will move some, annoy others, and play right in the middle for most.