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EVERY DAY: 2 STARS. “plays up the teen dream ‘instalove’ aspects of the tale.”

Based on David Levithan’s New York Times bestseller “Every Day,” the new teenage romance starring Angourie Rice, asks what would it be like to really get inside the head of the person you love?

Rice plays Rhiannon, a 16-year old high school student dating a popular jock named Justin (Justice Smith). He’s a bit oblivious, the kind of guy who thinks a great date involves hanging around his bedroom, eating McDonalds and playing “Legend of Zelda.” One morning, feeling playful, Rhi suggests they skip class and spend the day together. “Is that something we do?“ he asks, before hightailing out of school and into an afternoon of romantic adventure. It is, Rhiannon says, the greatest day of her life.

Unfortunately, the next day, Justin doesn’t remember any of it. He has a vague memory of the fun, like he’s seeing it through a mist, but soon he’s back up to his old tricks, reverting back to the guy he was before their magical date. What’s going on? It seems Justin was simply “inhabited” for twenty-four hours by A, a wandering spirit who invades random bodies, always of the same age and only for 24 hours. It’s “Quantum Leap with a big helping of teenage ennui.

As Rhiannon slowly comes to grips with what’s going on she meets A’s newest incarnation, a teenage girl. “Where is A?” she asks. “He’s here, he’s not here, here.”

Confused yet? It gets foggier when Rhiannon and A, the amorphous spirit, become romantically involved. “Not everyone’s body aligns with their mind,” A says. “I am asking you to give me a chance.” The love is real, regardless of the meat suit the spirit has jumped into. When A lands in the form of Alexander (Owen Teague), a strapping young man, it seems the perfect blend of metaphysical and physical. Enter the melodramatic teen dilemma: How can you love someone whose life is not their own?

“Every Day” takes the long way around to drive home the point that making a spiritual connection with someone is just as important as clicking physically. After a deadly first thirty minutes that could have been from any generic indie teen drama the story picks up once Rhiannon rebounds from Justin to the spirit world but it never fully engages. Director Michael Sucsy embraces the supernatural afterschool special feel of the material, adding in a few playful touches—A spends some time in Rhiannon, modestly being careful not to look down while she’s in the shower—but he also muddies the already murky waters with a subplot about Rhiannon’s troubled father (Michael Cram) and harried mother (an underused Maria Bello). Their story provides more relationship advice—cultivate the ability to except the change in others—but adds little to the overall story.

“Every Day” feels like it skirts around the interesting stuff—the exploration of what it means to be rootless, cut free of gender and family—in favour of playing up the teen dream “instalove” aspects of the tale.

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