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Movie review: Teen romance ‘Every Day’s’ body-jumping premise is more interesting than good

POSTED February 26, 2018 8:19 p.m.
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"EVERY DAY" — 2½ stars — Angourie Rice, Justice Smith, Debby Ryan; PG-13 (thematic content, language, teen drinking and suggestive material); in general release

So there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that the perfect man exists. The bad news is that “he” is a body-jumping sexually ambiguous entity from Phoenix.

Based on the novel by David Levithan, Michael Sucsy’s “Every Day” is the story of a unique relationship between a teenage girl named Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) and a …well, the thing described in the paragraph above. It calls itself “A.” Every 24 hours, A wakes up to find itself inside a new body. The body can be male or female, but the age is typically the same, it’s usually within the same geographic area and it never inhabits the same body twice.

As the film opens, A wakes up in the body of Justin (Justice Smith), Rhiannon’s boyfriend. A is smitten immediately, which shocks Rhiannon, since Justin is the kind of disinterested, selfish boyfriend that makes decent guys without girlfriends think the world is a terrible place.

After spending the day with Rhiannon, A wakes up in another body and determines to seek her out and hopefully pursue the relationship. After a series of awkward encounters, A tries to share its secret with Rhiannon. This is also an awkward encounter, though Rhiannon is a little more accepting of the premise than she should be.

From here, “Every Day” explores A and Rhiannon’s attempt to develop a manageable relationship, which is interesting since the identity of one of the romantic leads keeps changing. Aside from trying to figure out their own chemistry, they discuss more heady concepts such as whether A should be allowed to interfere with the lives it is inhabiting (such as a teenage girl contemplating suicide), or whether A could even be justified in trying to make the inhabitation permanent (such as with one of Rhiannon’s classmates).

In the meantime, we get bits and pieces of peripheral story threads, such as the dysfunctional relationship between Rhiannon’s parents, Lindsey (Maria Bello) and Nick (Michael Cram), and Rhiannon’s less dysfunctional relationship with her sister Jolene (Debby Ryan) and her best friend Rebecca (Amanda Arcuri).

It’s an interesting concept — kind of a weird inverted “Groundhog Day” type of thing — and as far as teen romances go, you could do a lot worse. But “Every Day” is more interesting than it is good, built on a compelling premise that helps to mask its shortcomings in execution.

You get the feeling that A is meant to be a metaphor for something more significant, but you can never quite put your finger on what “Every Day” is really trying to say. There are themes about identity, morality and self-sacrifice, but sadly, the only time the film touches on something like religion is when A inhabits the body of a stereotypical two-dimensional Christian who decides he’s been possessed by the spirit of Satan.

Without a consistent love interest, it’s hard for Rice to demonstrate any chemistry for Rhiannon and A’s relationship — though she certainly has plenty of opportunities. And strangely, even Rhiannon’s character feels a little underdeveloped.

“Every Day” does a decent job of balancing its expectations as a teen romance and its desire to be a thought-provoking film, and as polarizing as it is likely to be, its ending is probably about as satisfying as it could hope to be. But with another rewrite or two, “Every Day” might have been something special.

"Every Day" is rated PG-13 for thematic content, language, teen drinking and suggestive material; running time: 95 minutes.

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