'Every Day': Film Review

Feels more like an eternity.
2/23/2018

The screen adaptation of David Levithan's YA best-seller stars Angourie Rice as a teen in love with an entity who wakes up in a different body every morning.

Playing like a tortured teen twist on A Dog’s Purpose, Michael Sucsy’s Every Day is a romantic fantasy about a 16-year-old girl in love with a similarly smitten entity who wakes up in a different adolescent body every morning. At its core is a well-intentioned message about inclusivity and valuing inner beauty, but the film, adapted from the 2012 YA best-seller by David Levithan (albeit with a problematic perspective shift), remains stuck in a stubborn rut somewhere between confusing and snooze-inducing. 

This first release by the newly resurrected Orion Pictures might play well with a female audience too young for Fifty Shades Freed, but most others will likely shut their eyes tightly and wish they woke up in a different theater.

Where the Levithan novel took place through the eyes of A, an undefined, restless spirit who would occupy the bodies of unsuspecting people its own age for roughly 24 hours a pop, the screen version has shifted the focus to that of Rhiannon (Angourie Rice), a self-possessed high school student with a boyfriend, Nathan (Justice Smith), who takes her for granted.

That is, until the day A happens to inhabit Nathan’s body, turning him into the sort of attentive beau of her dreams who enjoys strolls on the beach and going on idyllic drives while jointly singing along to “This Is the Day” by 1980s post-punk outfit The The. Honest. 

Unfortunately, the day after, Nathan is back to his old, indifferent self, as A moves onto, or rather into, another host in Rhiannon’s immediate orbit. By the end of the week, Rhiannon has gone from a disbeliever to actively seeking out A’s latest teenage guise — one that isn’t governed by gender or skin color and can take the form of all shapes and sizes, although Rhiannon seems to have a clear preference for lean, sensitive guys with kissable lips.

Director Sucsy, whose credits include HBO’s Grey Gardens and Sony’s The Vow, and screenwriter Jesse Andrews, who previously penned the film adaptation of his novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, obviously had audience identification in mind when opting to switch out their central protagonist. But in taking the POV away from the disembodied A, the film not only dilutes Levithan’s resonant themes of identity and categorization, but also places Rhiannon in the potentially less sympathetic position of physically connecting with no less than 16 iterations of A throughout the course of the filmed-in-Toronto production. At the rate she’s going, she could hit the 100 hook-up mark by the start of second semester.

If there was some sort of satirical element in play, the conceit might have been more easily digested, but there’s no such luck in light of all the achingly banal dialogue and listless, repetitive pacing.

Australian actress Rice and her co-stars do the best they can under the excruciatingly earnest circumstances — which is at least more than a thoroughly squandered Maria Bello has been given to do as Rhiannon's constantly stressed-out mom, who looks like she could benefit from finding a shape-shifting spirit of her own.

Production companies: Likely Story, Filmwave, Silver Reel Pictures
Distributor: Orion Pictures
Cast
: Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Owen Teague, Maria Bello, Debby Ryan
Director: Michael Sucsy
Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews
Producers: Paul Trijbits, Christian Grass, Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron
Executive producers: Stefanie Azpiazu, Marina Brackenbury
Director of photography: Rogier Stoffers
Production designer: Matthew Davies
Costume designer: Georgina Yarhi
Editor: Kathryn Himoff
Music: Elliott Wheeler:
Casting director: Rori Bergman

Rated PG-13, 91 minutes