Sunday, January 09, 2011

“Every Day” – Movie Review


Well, it seems that the bonus screenings for the Spring Semester of my movie class have started a bit early this year because I saw my first one this morning – the comedy/drama “Every Day” starring Liev Schreiber, Helen Hunt and Brian Dennehy. 

After a woman’s ailing father moves in with her and the rest of the family, she becomes stressed with being his caretaker – but when his presence also puts a strain on her marriage, can she and her husband remain together? 
As a staff-writer on a TV show, Ned (Schreiber) is feeling a significant amount of stress at work because his boss (Eddie Izzard) is dissatisfied with the scripts he’s been submitting lately; that stress is compounded at home by virtue of the fact that his oldest son, a teenager, has come out about his homosexuality, which makes Ned feel deeply ashamed and embarrassed.  To make matters worse, his wife Jeannie (Hunt) is now bringing home her ailing father Ernie (Dennehy) to live with the family so that they can take care of him. 
Once joined with the family, Ernie’s mere presence immediately disrupts everyone’s life in part due to his illness but also due to his surly personality and irascible behavior.  Adding to this is the fact that Jeannie is now forced to both relive and confront her difficult relationship with her father as it has spilled over from her childhood into her adulthood.  However, no matter her protestations, Ernie is far too old to change his ways at this point.  Causing her additional difficulty is the fact that with Ned getting increasing pressure at work to produce script rewrites on short deadlines, he is unavailable to pull his weight in assisting Jeannie to care for Ernie.  Intensifying matters for Ned is the fact that his gay teenage son is pursuing romantic interests that make Ned ever more worried and uncomfortable. 
With Ernie’s health rapidly deteriorating, things begin to seem as though the family is headed towards a breaking point.  When Ned is forced to collaborate with a fellow staff writer, the sexy young Robin (Carla Gugino), he finds himself succumbing to her flirtatious nature, thus potentially jeopardizing his marriage to Jeannie, who is becoming increasingly suspicious of his infidelity.  Will Ned be able to both keep his job and his marriage intact or will he be forced to make an especially painful choice?
This was the first feature film by Writer/Director Richard Levine and our instructor pointed out that even if his production notes from the studio did not explicitly mention this, there was one telltale sign that it was a filmmaker’s first effort:  the fact that it was based on his own real-life personal experiences.  The majority of Levine’s work has been in writing for television (as was the case with Ned, the protagonist of this story), including such shows as JAG.  Unfortunately, the feel of the script has very much that of a TV show, which hurts the movie – the comedic moments seem like a sit-com and the drama feels like a Movie Of The Week.
While much of the class liked this movie, I was in the minority as a dissenting voice.  For me, the problem was, as I alluded to above, with the script itself, but for more of what I believe to have been a fundamental flaw in the telling of the story:  it had a strong sense of imbalance for me that threw the whole thing off kilter.  What do I mean by this?  Well, simply, the filmmaker tells this as Ned’s story when it is really Jeannie’s tale to be told.  The reason I say this is that the guts of the story are about how Jeannie must overcome feelings of hurt and resentment in order to do the right thing and take care of her sick father.  Instead, we are left experiencing Ned as the protagonist simply because he has the majority of the screen time. 
“Every Day” is supposed to be opening next weekend, but I suspect it will be a small, limited release.  Given my above observations about the film, I can’t really recommend it as something worthy of your time and money in the movie theater, but perhaps something to consider for rental or on cable TV once it becomes available.  This is a movie that will probably not stay in the theaters very long because it seems geared for an older audience rather than for the teen crowd, so its appeal will likely be rather limited as a result.  Therefore, if you do choose to see it in the theater, I wouldn’t suggest waiting too long because it might not be in distribution for more than just a couple of weeks.