Every Day, opening Friday, Feb. 4, at the Reading Gaslamp, tackles an aspect of early middle age that will seem terrifyingly familiar to some and unimaginably terrifying to those who have yet to hit early middle age—yep, that awkward period of life when you're mourning your youth while trying to raise your children and discovering that you'll soon also have to take care of your parents.
Liev Schreiber plays Ned, a guy right in the middle of all of that. He has a good New York life, a nice family, a decent house and a cool job. But it isn't perfect. His oldest son, Jonah (Ezra Miller), is a gay teen, and Ned's afraid that he'll be easy prey for older men. His youngest, Ethan (Skyler Fortgang), would love more attention than he's able to get. His wife, Jeannie (Helen Hunt), is miserable because she believes her career has been ruined by her kids, and she's finally brought her crotchety, cantankerous father, ernie (Brian Dennehy), out to live with them—a decision ernie's none too happy about.
At work, Ned's the old man on the writing staff of a seamy, steamy medical drama, a crew headed up by the tyrannical Garrett (an overacting Eddie Izzard). Not only does Ned have to contend with younger writers who aren't weighed down with the kinds of responsibilities that he has, but, also, Garrett's favorite, Robin (Carla Gugino), an L.A. transplant who never settled down and who represents all the freedoms Ned has given up for his family, would like to show him more than just her black-bottomed pool, if you catch my drift. For a guy facing everything Ned's facing, that's a pretty tempting offer.
But there's nothing here that you haven't seen before. And beyond the predictable patterns the script falls into, one of the biggest failings is Schreiber. He isn't bad—in many ways, the problem is that he's too good an actor to play Ned. Aside from the Wolverine and Salt paychecks he's picked up in recent years, Schreiber is a well-trained, extremely intelligent, very intense actor, and Ned is just too straightforward and too square in his stresses and neuroses.
Levine's script is also problematic, because it often gets dangerously close to the same sensationalism that Ned is forced into when he writes his own scripts. Mom takes the kids out, so grandpa raids the gin. The only thing Robin kept from her ex is a Speedo that's just Ned's size. Ned's terrified that a nasty older guy will pick up on Jonah because he's gay, and that's precisely what happens. What's tragic is that there are pieces that are good, and occasional lines of dialogue that are just terrific, but they aren't supported by the film as a whole.
In many ways, Every Day feels more suited to the stage than the screen. There are theatrical conventions—characters having totally unrelated conversations with each other at the same time, for instance—that work better live than on film. All of the adult leads have stage experience, and in the cases of Schreiber and Dennehy, it's extensive. You can't help but wonder if that theatricality was what drew them to the project in the first place.
Yes, the roles are good, and, yes, the cast is talented. But that isn't enough to raise Every Day above the everyday.