You know that demographic. The kind that goes to the movies specifically to see Melissa McCarthy. Well, The Fault in Our Stars targets just such an audience member: The trashy type who thinks she's not trashy because she owns a Michael Kors handbag. It's not to say John Green's novel isn't perfectly enjoyable, but several things get lost in the translation of the film version, directed by Josh Boone (whose debut was Stuck in Love) and written by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (both of whom also wrote another Shailene Woodley vehicle, The Spectacular Now).
With the ever-increasing rarity of the rom-com, female audiences tend to cream themselves each time a film faintly resembling the genre comes out. Unfortunately, The Fault in Our Stars is a cancer-rom, with very little in the way of comedy. Right from the beginning, our heroine, Hazel Lancaster (Woodley), apologizes for the story. While the movie remains mostly faithful to the book, the screenplay deviates in several key ways, chiefly choosing to cut out Augustus' (Ansel Elgort) dead girlfriend, Caroline, who also suffered from cancer. I guess they didn't want to make him seem like too much of a cancer fetishist. Moreover, the explanation for the title of the book never even comes up, though it is a key part of their love story. For those curious and with no intention of reading the novel, the origin of the title stems from William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." Hazel's favorite author, Peter Van Houten (played by Willem Dafoe, who still can't manage to give this film any edge), maintains that in Hazel and Augustus' case, the fault is entirely in the stars.
Hazel's mother, Frannie (Laura Dern, who is difficult to watch in anything other than Blue Velvet), encourages Hazel's relationship with Augustus, even offering to chaperone them on their trip to Amsterdam. Hazel deems such encouragements "cancer perks," though it doesn't make the plot line seem that much more believable.
Although there are numerous uncomfortably cheesy moments in this film, that isn't what makes it unwatchable when you're not of the Twilight set. It's that the filmmakers have tried so overtly to make a non-bathetic cancer movie. This isn't really possible. The closest anyone has ever gotten is Joel Schumacher with Dying Young--and that was just because Julia Roberts was in it.