(Written by Intern, Amanda Davidowski)
Film adaptations of books can be a toss up of quality. Some are absolutely fantastic like The Notebook, while others are not so great like Artemis Fowl. I have not read Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, so I can’t say how faithful the film was to the source material. However, I can determine whether or not it was entertaining. Director Hans Canosa’s take is a charming rom-com that feels like a mix of a Hallmark and Lifetime movie, but not necessarily in a bad way.
A.J. Fikry (Kunal Nayyar) is a widowed, disgruntled bookstore owner on Alice Island. His bookstore, fittingly named Island Books, is not doing well financially. He drinks himself to sleep nearly every night. On top of this amassed crisis, his most valuable book is stolen, and a little girl named Maya is suddenly left behind with only a note in his bookstore. Police chief Lambiase (David Arquette) has no luck finding the lost novel, and discovers the girl’s mother washed up on the beach. A.J. is stuck in a downward spiral, but everything shifts once he decides to raise the child as his own with a little bit of help from his sister-in-law, Ismay (Christina Hendricks), and her husband, Daniel (Scott Foley).
A few years pass, and Fikry finally gets around to reading a book that was recommended to him by sales rep Amelia (Lucy Hale). He gives her a call, and from there, they bond over their love of the work, “The Late Bloomer.” A budding romance forms between the two, with some obstacles—she lives in Providence, Rhode Island, and the ferry to Alice Island barely runs. A.J. and Amelia power through their struggles in a series of typical rom-com stereotypes and scenarios.
This film is whimsical yet serious when it needs to be. Tracking amid the course of over a decade, we watch A.J. turn his life around through a series of what, at first, appear as unfortunate events. Not only is his life changed, but the people in his orbit become affected as well. After all, they do live on a small island. By the end, every loose end wraps itself up through unpredictable plot twists and a bittersweet ending.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is not perfect, but it certainly hits all of the marks every romantic comedy should. The chemistry between A.J. and Amelia is sweet, awkward, and real. It has its comedic relief in solemn scenes, and hard-hitting moments of heavy emotion. The film did drag at times, and I was left wondering where the story was going, but eventually it did pick up. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an enjoyable watch that preaches an important message: take chances, because you never know where life will take you.
Prepare to delve into The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry exclusively in theaters October 7th.