By Kim Hughes
The young adult film Every Day conveys its message of tolerance and inclusion with conviction though it could benefit from a bit more teen drama, something that can rarely be said in the real world.
The film follows high schooler Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) — a shiny, happy, well-coiffed but curiously flat kiddo who makes others in her orbit seem positively drab — and a mysterious character called A.
A is a being who wakes up every day in a random person’s body. That person could be male or female, gay or straight, from any ethnic background. The constant is A’s age and thus, his/her ability to slip unnoticed into high schools teeming with navel-gazing jocks and preps. Talk about a mind-melting cosmic wormhole.
A’s primary job is to live as the assumed person for 24 hours without mucking things up for the real body when they return from a daylong fugue state. As such, A must be very fast on his/her feet and very, very mindful.
One day, A wakes up in the body of Rhiannon’s boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith). The two enjoy a picture-perfect day together with Justin, normally a sullen, self-absorbed dope, suddenly present and caring. When the next day comes and Justin returns to his old self, Rhiannon — now alert to the possibilities of dating someone who isn’t a giant ball of unrelenting jerkiness — begins an awakening.
As more and more new people enter Rhiannon’s life wearing different skins but the same knocked knees (that would be a smitten A inhabiting different shells), Rhiannon is forced to make some big life decisions. And deal with all manner of awkwardness.
To wit: when Rhiannon and one conveniently hunky version of A slip away to a remote cottage for some canoodle time, A must return to the home of that day’s body before midnight. He vows to return… except the next day, he wakes up in the body of someone about to have surgery, stranding Rhiannon in the woods without wheels. Love is complex, dude.
A subplot involving Rhiannon’s workaholic, possibly philandering Mom and mentally delicate Dad (played respectively by Maria Bello and Michael Cram) underscores the movie’s themes of universal kindness and love and how what makes us different is far less compelling in the grand scheme than what makes us alike.
Toronto residents will enjoy playing spot the location; Every Day was filmed here though is set in California. As for the missing teen drama noted above? The movie takes little time establishing its plot with Rhiannon quickly acclimated to the idea of her lover morphing into a different person every day, requiring among other things, highly adept kissing skills.
That leaves us time to ponder the wider implications of someone able to transmogrify, something the filmmakers — adapting writer David Levithan’s bestseller — mostly forgo in pursuit of teen love across the gender/colour/sexuality spectrum. OK, so maybe they are playing to the audience. But it’s hard to believe that even a goody two-shoes like Rhiannon would take such harsh romantic twists without some kind of hissy fit against, like, a totally unfair world.
Perhaps she has never seen Freaky Friday despite being well-versed in retro culture. (The The!?) One hopes body swapping has more powerful implications than merely taking a closer look at the nerdy school misfit with a heretofore unappreciated heart of gold.
Every Day. Directed by Michael Sucsy. Starring Maria Bello, Angourie Rice, and Debby Ryan. Opens wide February 23.