Holden Caulfield grown up … again

Every Day

on January 14, 2011 by Matthew Nestel

Ever since author J.D. Salinger invented Holden Caulfield there's been a plague of copycats. Every Day halfheartedly tries on the red hunter's hat and delves into the oddities of a married couple edging ever closer to the middle age abyss while their kid pushes the threshold of his sexuality and their misanthropic parent moves back home to deliver guilt before dying. Auds will be wise to the contrived metaphors and realize there's not much going on below the surface except stock discourse.

The beginning of the film starts off strong and tight. A toddler fears "bad people" are gonna get him before his dad Ned (Liev Schreiber) tempers the situation with soft talk. Ned's Mr. Mom while the real mom is out-of-town rescuing her dad from dying in solitude. Morning arrives. White bread lathered with mayonnaise and cold cuts. A crack of eggs, toast buttered and burnt. The two boys, possibly a decade apart in age, tell dad he blew breakfast. Then the older teenage son Jonah (Ezra Miller) wants a greenlight to attend a college dance that happens to be gay. Dad keeps stalling, "We'll talk about it when mama gets home."

Mama is Jeannie (Helen Hunt) who comes home with heavy baggage: her dad Ernie (Brian Dennehy). Dad's arrival boots Jonah from his room to bunk with his younger brother Ethan (Skyler Fortang) and through the old coot's belligerence and depression he keeps the family from jumping ship.
Ned is struggling to drum up juicy scripts as a writer for a porn TV show called Mercy Medical. He gets earfuls ("I've done that") from the flamboyant, sadist producer Garrett, cleverly played by Eddie Izzard. During the writer's roundtable, where buzz offerings include "Anal is the new oral," it's Ned who is in a dry spell while newcomers steal his thunder. After the limp scripts fail to impress the hyper-flaming, homosexual boss who wants wow, pow, and now, he saddles Ned up with buxom siren Robin (Carla Gugino). As writing partners they lock tongues more than they write but somehow they crank out an episode that protects Ned from retreating to his suburban Tudor jobless.

Job or no job, the homefront is in tatters. Jeannie is over her head playing around-the-clock nurse to her ungrateful, drunkard dad. Jonah is embarking on a homosexual fling with a drug-addled punk who tests his limits. And Ned isn't around, too busy poking his writing partner in her private penthouse pool and doing lines of coke to reclaim his lost youth. Then the madness stills and the family unit returns back to normal. Or some new normal.

Filmmaker Richard Levine is working with quality actors that shine as solos here but together fail to mesh. Hunt and Schreiber feel as intimate as two strangers. Dennehy entertains as a down and out geriatric who daydreams about gigging at jazz nightclubs then awakes shouting profanities like "Get me my shit kit."

This family portrait in-flux isn't seeding fertile ground. Rather, by meddling with taboos and throwing in a bunch of overextended elements the work feels played out.

Cast: Live Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard, Carla Gugino, Ezra Miller and Skyler Fortang
Distributor: Image Entertainment
Director/Screenwriter: Richard Levine
Producers: Miranda Bailey and Matthew Leutwyler
Genre: Dramedy
Rating: R for language, sexual content and some drug use.
Running time: 93 min
Release date: January 14 NY/LA

Tags: Live Schreiber, Helen Hunt, Brian Dennehy, Eddie Izzard, Carla Gugino, Ezra Miller, Skyler Fortang, Richard Levine, Miranda Bailey, Matthew Leutwyler

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