Missing the recital. Of all the clichés to suggest parents with their priorities out of whack, that one may be worse than excessive cell-phone use, because it isn’t just a character detail, it’s a whole scene. As a TV writer suffering through a midlife crisis in Every Day, Liev Schreiber misses his youngest son’s violin recital while boinking a fellow scribe in her swimming pool, and that’s all that needs to be said about the movie. Writer-director Richard Levine doesn’t get more obvious than that—he likely couldn’t if he tried—but it’s the clearest indication that Schreiber’s misadventures will be common ones. And in case the film’s message about the constancy of marriage and its long-term enrichments weren’t already apparent, the title takes care of it.
Schreiber leads a mostly charmed life: His work on a hit cable show called Mercy Medical keeps him and family firmly ensconced in upper-middle-class privilege, his wife (Helen Hunt) remains unfailingly caring and decent, and his youngest sons are bright and healthy. But lately, those same blessings are starting to wear on him. Mercy Medical’s showrunner (Eddie Izzard) keeps calling for more cheap shocks in Schreiber’s scripts. His wife’s generosity has led her to bring her cantankerous, terminally ill father (Brian Dennehy) into the house. And he can’t quite will himself to accept his eldest son’s sexuality. In his mild despair, Schreiber turns to his colleague Carla Gugino, who lives just the kind of coke-snorting, skinny-dipping, casual-sex-having existence that looks especially appealing to him at the moment.
At the movie’s center, Schreiber approaches the role with a seriousness that lacks joy or any other colorful inflection, as if every second of his character’s life, even the pleasurable ones, is weighing on him like an albatross. Perhaps this was a deliberate choice on his or Levine’s part, but Every Day seems to shuffle along with him, leaving behind a host of supporting players—the terrific Dennehy especially—that might have made more compelling leads. The film follows the grim-faced Schreiber on a journey to that metaphorical recital, and getting there is an exasperating slog.