“The Legendary Life of AJ Fikry”: Too Many Stories, Not Enough Life

(2 stars)

Set in a small independent bookstore and centered on the owner, a grumpy widower, The Legend of AJ Fikry is full of love. Not that romantic – though a little bit – but mostly a love of reading, writing, thinking and talking about books. “A place is not a place without a bookstore,” someone said when the very existence of the film’s bookstore environment was threatened. If the emotion makes you smile (guilty), or even jump up, wave your fists and yell “right now,” the movie has taken hold.

So it ends up being not a great story, but an overly eventful one spoiled by clichés and melodrama, which is kind of weird and disappointing.

Based on Gabrielle Zevin’s 2014 bestseller and adapted for the screen by the author — who is as famous as her young adult novels — “Fikry” takes place on a quaint fictional island off Cape Cod, a picturesque film The 40-something protagonist (Kunal Nayyar in The Big Bang Theory) has been drinking and sleeping in the depressingly small living space behind his shop every night since the death of his wife. . This is a shop owner with a strong opinion on literature, free to share, but not many customers. His residence is as dingy as a used bookstore, though it’s not one — at least not the only one. AJ does have a few new releases in stock, scattered across the prop book, that look like dozens of real estate sales from Hyannis.

If AJ’s business plan seems flawed, he has an escape plan: sell his Edgar Allan Poe’s first edition of “The Timur” and slowly retire on the proceeds.

But three things happened in a row: the 2-year-old girl was abandoned in the shop and adopted by AJ, “Temerine” was stolen, and AJ met someone. That man is Amelia (Lucy Hale), a publisher’s rep who is both beautiful and a lover of books and, a little ridiculously, falls in love with 2018 while she’s in town touting her employer’s new title. long alcoholic.

To be sure, AJ did make his life fit enough to qualify for the adoption of this little girl named Maya. I’ll admit, Nayyar is an unexpectedly charming antihero. The rest of the cast is strong as well, with David Arquette playing the affable small-town cop and Christina Hendricks playing AJ’s late wife’s sister, who was AJ’s best friend. A good friend and the island’s best-selling novelist (Scott Foley). Playing the Mayans, there is not much difference from age 2 to adolescence, Charlotte Thanh Theresin, Jordyn McIntosh and Blaire Brown.

Yes, time really flies here, along with real character development, love, marriage, infidelity, shocking parent-child relationship revelations, tragic car accidents, cancer and other developments (including the unveiling of “Timur” The veil) thief) came to this postcard-perfect town with a regular rhythm and all the subtleties of a stormtrooper in boots.

Plot is one thing, but not the only one, any literary critic will tell you. In “The Legendary Life of AJ Fikry,” a deeper meaning is left behind, in a story with too many stories but not enough life.

PG-13. at the regional theatre. Contains short, powerful language, some suggestive material, and mature thematic elements. 105 minutes.

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