Film Review: Every Day

Low-suds soap opera about the trendy “sandwich generation” travails of a hip, well-off New York family.

Ned (Liev Schreiber) and his wife Jeannie (Helen Hunt) are a professional couple living in Brooklyn with their two sons, Jonah (Ezra Miller) and Ethan (Skyler Fortgang). At about the time that Jonah, who’s 14, announces he’s gay—and, by the way, he plans to attend a “gay prom”—Jeannie has to fly off to the Midwest to retrieve her ailing father, Ernie (Brian Dennehy), who can no longer live alone. Ernie is an irascible old man confined to a wheelchair and, among other infirmities, he’s afflicted with bad attitude. Jeannie never liked her dad, but now that he’s under her roof she feels a duty to meet his constant demands—at the expense of her relationships with husband, kids and career.

Meanwhile, Ned’s is feeling neglected at work as well as at home; his boss, Garrett (Eddie Izzard, as perky and provocative as ever), begins rejecting Ned’s scripts for a TV series called “Mercy Medical” because, it seems, they’re not shocking enough. He wants stories about lesbian vampires or werewolf transvestites—or some such—or what about people puking? Garrett suggests that Ned might gain inspiration by taking on a writing partner, his voluptuous co-worker Robin (Carla Gugino), who’s apparently more attuned to shock values.

As it happens, Robin was once a very successful screenwriter in Los Angeles, which explains why, when she moved to New York, she was able to afford a luxury apartment with its very own indoor swimming pool (a big pool). After a little wine and lots of recreational drugs, she convinces Ned that in order to get their writing engines going, they need to get naked and get in the pool. Hmmm.

While Ned is thus occupied, Jeannie is forced to go alone to see Ethan, their youngest son, give a violin recital. She doesn’t even realize that older son Jonah has sneaked off to meet a college-age guy who’d picked him up at the gay prom. And then, of course, she has to deal with dad Ernie, who’s wetting his pants again, or falling out of bed, or getting drunk and imagining himself as a drummer in a cool jazz band, or sitting in his wheelchair spouting quotes such as “Despise not death, but welcome it.” Oy.

The script for Every Day was most likely written well before the economic collapse of 2008; otherwise such calamities as forced unemployment and home foreclosure surely would have been stirred into the stew of contemporary family problems dealt with here. Some of this might have been more palatable if the script—or the actors—had revealed any empathy for their characters and what they’re going through. Helen Hunt looks sorrowful from beginning to end—and neither her dying dad nor her straying husband nor the near-rape of her gay son provokes any normal emotion. Like sheer outrage. And in Liev Schreiber’s hands, Ned is equally inscrutable—with his faint sneer and unflappable air of being above it all.

Gugino and Izzard are the liveliest members of the cast, and they alone seem to understand the plot’s satiric elements. The two young actors playing the sons, on the other hand, are the only ones tuned into the potential tragedy of their family situation and the lessons to be learned from it. They’re both just fine. As to Dennehy, well, the less said…