If Wetlands looks at teen life without blinkers, If I Stay prefers Hollywood-style, rose-colored glasses. Guess which one finds box-office gold? Based on Gayle Forman’s 2009 YA bestseller, If I Stay has the virtue of starring Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In, Hugo), 17, a skilled actress who can make me believe anything. But not this, Chloe, not this. Moretz plays Mia Hall, an Oregon high schooler with a gift for cello, a rocker boyfriend (Jamie Blackley), indulgent parents (Mireille Enos and Joshua Leonard), and an itch to get into Julliard. While audience members who haven’t nodded off hold their breath over the outcome, there’s a car accident. There had to be something. A comatose Mia is rushed into surgery. But her spirit wanders around eavesdroping on family and friends who can’t see her. Mia, shy and uncertain in life, needs to be convinced there’s a reason to live if she stays. As I write these words, I feel myself experiencing a loss of consciousness, wondering how this recipe for sugar shock could interest any sentient being over the age of nine. Documentarian R.J. Cutler (The September Issue), in his feature debut, joins Moretz in delivering this pap as if it meant something. Cue eye rolling.
Doane Gregory/Warner Bros
From The Archives Issue 1218: September 25, 2014