PG — 1h 32m — Drama
Release Date: August 28, 2020
Directed by: Brett Haley
Brett Haley, director of Looking for Alaska and All the Bright Places, recently released a new book-to-movie-adaptation of Matthew Quick’s novel, Sorta like a Rockstar, titled All Together Now on Netflix. This feel-good movie follows a positive, bubbly protagonist named Amber Appleton, who may look like she has it all together, but she’s hiding a secret from her friends and classmates: Amber and her single mother are currently living in a school bus as they have nowhere else to live. Once Amber hears news that turns her world upside down, she must choose between facing the world on her own or accepting help from those who love her most.
I had the wonderful opportunity to speak to Brett Haley and lead actress, Auli’i Cravalho, about this coming-of-age movie, which is actually Auli’i’s first film since her career took off in 2016. “I am so blessed that I got to start off with Disney,” said Cravalho. “I was 14 when I was cast and 16 when the film came out…it feels like a really great next step where I get to still sing my heart out and still connect to fans that way, but I also get to take a step in a more serious direction and continue my career with beautiful, strong leading heroes.”
One of the strongest elements of this film is its use of music to help develop the story and add more depth to the characters’ emotions. Auli’i once again blows us all away with her talent, and while this film isn’t primarily centered around her singing, the scenes that we do see her performing in packs so much heart and makes us feel closer to her character, aching to follow her dreams while also feeling held back due to her family’s current situation.
Another element that makes All Together Now such a wonderful coming-of-age film is the diverse cast, whose various identities are incorporated into this film in a way that’s organic and authentic. “I am so proud of our cast,” said Cravalho. “We all really connected as friends. We are differently-abled and non-neurotypical and people of color…It was so fun, and it felt great. Like, it felt like I was listened to.”
Director Brett Haley also touched upon the importance of having a diverse cast for this powerful film:
That is my goal with every project that I do. It is important to me that I don’t, with my privilege, say I’m going to go make a film about what it means to be something that I am not or could never relate to because I can’t put myself in the shoes, but I can have empathy. I can make a diverse film. I can give voices to other artists within my story and all you have to do is listen to get it right, and all I had to do was say, you know, there’s a character in this film who uses a wheelchair… we can take someone who does not use a wheelchair and have them pretend to use a wheelchair, as is often done, or you can make the effort to say there’s a great actor out there who happens to use a wheelchair and he or she is just waiting for this opportunity, let’s do that, and that is what we did.
It’s the same thing with a non-neurotypical actor. It’s like they are out there. They want to work. They are great, so go look for them, give them the opportunity rather than just doing things the way you think they should be done.”
All Together Now lifted my spirits, brought tears to my eyes, and made me feel hopeful at the end of it all. It reminded me that having hope and being positive can change others’ lives as well as your own. It reminded me to ask loved ones for help because one doesn’t need to weather the storm of life alone. It reminded me that good, true goodness is still out there; one just has to be open to accepting it.
Haley touched upon the message of this film, “I just feel like it’s a movie that people can use right now and I hope that’s the case and it’s just from our hearts… and we are hoping that you can sit with your family and watch this film together and talk about what it means to have hope, what it means to lose hope, what it means to accept love and accept help when you need it and also ask for help when you need it.”
If you’re in need of a boost of positivity in 2020, sit down and watch All Together Now. It will put a smile on your face and make you hold your loved ones a little tighter. It is the perfect film for these uncertain times and will remind us all to have hope, help others, and accept the help others are willing to give to us.
All Together Now is out now on Netflix, so be sure to go add it to your watchlist! Thank you to Brett Haley and Auli’i Cravalho for taking the time to speak about their newest heartwarming film.