Monday, November 7, 2011

Every Day – a review

Every Day is listed in Netflix under comedies. It has Eddie Izzard in it and some funny moments, but if you rent it for laughs, you need to be prepared to watch the story of a dying old man with a rotten disposition threatening to pull a family apart with his needs. It’s the story of Ned, a New York TV script writer (Liev Schreiber) whose hard-driving boss (Eddie Izzard) keeps him from attending to crises at home, where his wife Jeannie (Helen Hunt) is dealing with a father (Brian Dennehy) who needs 24-hour care, an overtaxed career and two kids with growing problems. The story starts slowly and you might be tempted to chuck it out as just another contrived domestic drama for TV. But stick with it. Despite the bumps in the road, it turns out the story is a comedy, not for its laughs but for its embrace of life and demonstration that at some of us, when we pull together, can make things work - comedy as opposed to tragedy.

The acting is excellent. Even the minor characters – Robin (Carla Gugino), Ned’s seductive co-worker, and Nathan (Skyler Fortgang), the younger son, are great to watch. The only real flaw, I think, is the overdone character of Ned’s boss, where you suspect the deliberate outrageousness was written into the script just to provide Izzard an opportunity to do his thing.

The most interesting aspect of the story for me is the treatment of gayness. Jonah (Ezra Miller) plays a remarkably well put-together teenager and older of two sons. He is out and getting full support from his mother. His father, however, who writes scripts on demand of all manner of violence and perversion, and who might be expected to be super savvy on sexual matters, turns out to have some deep-seated problems coming to terms with his son’s sexuality. On the surface, he’s simply overly protective. But one touching moment in the film is when Ned (the father, remember – not the son) “comes out” to his boss – who is a flaming gay himself – as a man with a gay son, and admits he has been hiding that fact from everybody for six months, giving illustration to the claim that homophobia is the last of the major American bigotries to fall.

Ned’s failings as a husband and father lead much of the plot. There’s a scene where Jonah plays on his overprotectiveness when Ned tells him to get off the computer because it’s 10 o’clock and time for bed. Jonah responds, “Well give me five minutes to say good-bye. I don’t want to be rude to a priest.” There’s another where Ned doesn’t like the way Jonah is dressed and tells him he looks like a hustler – against the protestations by Jeannie that their son is old enough to know how to dress for a dance. “Would you allow him to go out dressed like that if he were a girl?” Ned asks. Jonah comes back down with one of his father’s sweaters. “That’s better,” Ned says. Then, as soon as Jonah leaves, he turns to his wife and says, “Do I look that gay in that sweater?”

The fears and character flaws and the stressfulness of dealing with a difficult dying parent give the comedy an edginess and the slowly revealed richness of each character’s character lift it above the ordinary. I’d give it three-and-a-half stars on the Netflix scale – and because they do not give you in-between options, I went with four.

Not a must-see. But a good go at the movies.

93 minutes. 2010.


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