Tuesday, August 04, 2015

"Any Day" — movie review

Movie: Any Day
: 98 min
Rated: unrated
Starring: Sean Bean, Kate Walsh, Tom Arnold, Eva Longoria 

Director: Rustam Branaman
Screenplay: Rustam Branaman

Preface: I virtually never enjoy giving a negative review. So I never accept an offer of, say, a movie, unless I think there's a decent chance I'll like it. In the case of "Any Day," the cast of actors, plus the sketch of a redemptive plotline, plus its presentation as a "faith-based" movie, led me to hope that it would make a decent family watch. So I accepted a review copy.

Bottom Line: Once again, I watched it with my family and in-laws. The six of us ranged in ages from 15 to 79. The verdict?

Nobody loved it, and at least one really hated it. The biggest problem could be summed up thus: this movie doesn't know what it wants to be. And that's a problem.

Review: The central character is Vian (not a typo; played by Sean Bean), a boxer and a drunk who, in the opening sequence, is provoked at a party and beats a man to death. A crowd, including his sister Bethley (Kate Walsh), watches him do it, only stepping in when it is too late.

Finger-snap, it's twelve years later, and Bean's out of prison and getting off a bus. Yes, that abrupt. He goes to his sister's house, wanting to stay for a brief time until he can get a job. She will barely speak to him and abruptly rejects him. Why? Why is she still mad at him, 12 years later? We never find out.

This is one of those bothersome things that keep this from being an enjoyable movie. Bethley is portrayed as a decent person, a churchgoing believer, who relents again and again, helping Vian. So what sense does it make for her not to have worked at their relationship while he was in jail? Now he's out and helpless. Why didn't she pick him up? Why hadn't they talked about what he'd do with his life once he got out? Why doesn't she care to help him in his clear and sincere desire to go straight? There's no hint that Vian did anything wrong during that time; his demeanor throughout is meek and defeated, not unrepentant and defiant. This jars.

So Bethley relents, Vian moves into the garage and begins looking for work. The fellow who owns his old gym is also unaccountably still mad at him and unwilling to help. Vian has no other success, since he's an ex-con, until he happens on Roland (Tom Arnold), a fellow working the 12 steps who takes a chance on him. So, one good thing for Vian.

Then, in a grocery story, Vian very aggressively and clumsily "hits on" Jolene (Eva Longoria), obviously an attractive career woman who, unaccountably, succumbs to his utterly charmless, ham-fisted, and arguably menacing pursuit.

They instantly become physically, then sexually involved (more on that, later). But Jolene has a slimy ex-boyfriend who's a stalker. (Maybe she has a "thing" for charmless men who won't take "No, no, no, no, and once again, no" for an answer?) Slimyi-ex-boyfriend/stalker remains a menacing presence until finally he turns up with a folder revealing Vian's background.

Yes, that's right! Vian never tells Jolene that he was in jail for second-degree murder. And she has shown no great curiously about his background. Oopsie! She already accepted his lack of candor about his employment, but this is a bit much. Aaand then this ex-boyfriend, having served his role as a plot-device, disappears.

That happens a few times. There's a storyline about Bethley's precocious son being bullied. He wants Vian to teach him to fight. Vian refuses. Yet, just by watching Vian, somehow this little kid succeeds in slugging the bully and sending his (all much taller) henchmen running. Then that's dropped.

Bethley invites Vian to church, he's not interested. She's pretty vague. Bethley's son and Vian have a vaguely religious conversation. Bethley has a Bible, which is left closed. At one crisis point, she tries to pray part of the Lord's Prayer. The only book Vian reads is The Old Man and the Sea, because the boy urged him to and a crisis has occurred and it contains one of the deus ex machina's.

That's the setup. I'll only tell you that everything goes to hot blazes for Vian and he hits angry, stupid, drunken bottom. Then suddenly, he's all better. His redemption? That he will attend Alcoholics Anonymous with Roland.

But it's worse than that. Things are righted through not one but at least two deus ex machina's which pop up. Maybe even two and a half.

Salvation is achieved through a bunch of unexpected money, and AA.

What's great about the movie? Nothing. Sorry; just, nothing.

The only thing that makes "Any Day" to any degree watchable is the four talented principles, who try hard to make sympathetic characters out of the stick-figures they're given to play and the forgettable dialogue they're given to speak.

What's less great? Everything other than the four leads — and the boy. The camerawork is uneven, occasionally switching to slow-motion for no detectable reason. The music is forgettable. The scenery is nothing.

But here's the thing: this movie isn't any one thing, exactly.

Is it a family film? No; to my chagrin I was shocked by some very coarse language, and an unexpected PG13 semi-clothed sex scene that went on too long. None of that was necessary. Yet neither element were so bad that the movie would not have been an R. So it wasn't a family film, and it wasn't an "adult" film. It was neither/nor.

Was it Christian? Nope. It was religious; there was a smattering of God-talk, and Bethley went to some church. What church? No idea. We only know that it gives free sno-cones.

Where's Bethley's pastor when she is at the hospital, her boy severely injured? Roland, a man with a past history of drunkenness and strippers, does show up. But no pastor. Bethley is struggling to get by, but no hint of help from her church. Unless you count the sno-cones.

But not a syllable about Christ or the Gospel, and Vian's redemption was through AA's 12 steps, and through money. There's even a gauzy glowy appearance of a character fresh out of heaven (deus ex machina number one) spouting platitudes and hinting at the location of some money (deus ex machina number two).

So people who hate religion at all will hate it, and Christians will get nothing out of it.

Also, while I don't look for elements like this to complain about, I was really troubled by the portrayal of the main female characters. Both women are attracted to men who are beneath them. Both women say "No, no, no, no" repeatedly to male characters who will not and do not ever take "No" for an answer. In real life, at least two of these situations would have been very threatening, very dangerous. All the sequences send a bad message to women and men.

Is there Gospel? Not a shard.

Do you recommend it? Sorry, but no.

I've seen worse...but that's hardly a glowing recommendation, is it?

Does Sean Bean die in this movie, too? It depends on what you mean by "die."


Marla said...

What a waste of Sean Bean's acting talents. Thanks for the review. SMH

Marla said...

Just an FYI to the final meme -Marshall Teague holds the record for most on-screen deaths. I'm nerdy like that.