Director: Michael Sucsy
Cast: Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Debby Ryan
Run Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
These days, YA novel adaptations are about as common in movie theaters as sticky floors. But if there's one thing I could think of to spice up the dime-a-dozen slate of forgettable trifles like If I Stay or Paper Towns, it's author David Levithan. One of the best modern YA fiction writers, and certainly the best mainstream LGBT author for teens, he has a facility for language and inclusive storytelling that is boundless and exciting. Every Day is the first of his solo novels to be adapted into a film (he co-wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist and Naomi and Ely's No-Kiss List with Rachel Cohn), and I can't think of anybody more deserving.
Throw in Angourie Rice from The Nice Guys and I couldn't be more sold.
So Every Day has the kind of high concept that makes it impossible to explain without sounding like a lunatic, but makes perfect sense within about five minutes of screen time. Every day (hey, that's the name of the movie!), a consciousness named A wakes up in a different body. It's always somebody A's age, and always pretty near to wherever the last body was at midnight. Whoever's body A is in, they try to live life as that person (they have access to the person's basic memories, so it's not too hard), but living lives for others doesn't leave a lot of time to live life for oneself. Whatever oneself happens to be.
Enter Rhiannon (Angourie Rice). She's like a cat in the dark, and so forth. One day, when A is inhabiting the body of her loser boyfriend Justin (Justice Smith), she captures A's attention and thus begins a very confusing romance for both of them. A must come to terms with the way their actions affect the lives of the people they inhabit every day, and Rhiannon must realize that love must be pretty damn blind, if she's going to be with someone whose body and even gender is literally never the same twice.
Though they're mostly always cute, so the struggle isn't TOO real.
The interesting thing about a story like this, from a technical standpoint, is that all the responsibility for maintaining a consistent chemistry within this relationship falls on Angourie Rice. Seeing that it's hard enough for certain actors to maintain chemistry between just the two of them, this is another acting feat that proves Rice to be the real deal, even if the role - being a bit of a cypher for teen girls - is less showstopping than her Nice Guys character, which showed she could hold her own against heavy hitters like Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe.
But that's not to diminish the talents of her many, many, many co-stars (no fewer than a dozen different people play A, including Spider-Man: Homecoming's Jacob Batalon and It's Owen Teague). Justice Smith especially is kind of a revelation. We first meet him as inhabited by A, where he pours on the charm and sells that first, brilliant spark between them and Rhiannon. But once that spirit leaves him, he completely transforms. He's more different than if he had acquired a different body too, all spiky, surly physicality and tentative teen awkwardness. It's a physical and vocal shift displaying a skill and confidence that's stunning in somebody so young.
Oscars, keep an eye on these people.
Every Day really does have an interesting concept, and it does make a point to at least reference the diversity of the teen experience: A is fat, skinny, male, female, blind, trans, gay, straight, and everything in between. It's too gentle of a romance to dig into any of these experiences with the emotional depth it probably should have (save for a terrific scene about the responsibility of saving a suicidal teen), and like the equally gentle Timer, it's obsessed with exploring the ramifications of this particular high concept sometimes at the expense of finding a universal truth about human beings outside of the concept.
But it's impossible to dislike a movie this sweet. It's warmly funny when it wants to be, the picturesque Maryland settings get plenty of awe-inspiring landscape photography, it's primly, politely genderqueer in a way that's transgressive in a way so subtle you might not even notice, which is honestly the way we should be treating gender in modern teen movies. It's an Instagram-filtered approach to moviemaking that gives everything a pleasant glow, and while it's not a life-changing experience, it's overwhelmingly kind and delightful.
TL;DR: Every Day is a sweet high-concept romance, but it feels a little too light for its own good.
Rating: 6/10Word Count: 791