Rustam Branaman’s (“Project Solitude“) latest feature stars Bean as Vian, a boxer just released from a dozen-year stint in jail for drunkenly beating a man to death with his bare hands. With no prospects for either work or housing, he moves in with his sister (Kate Walsh) and her middle-school-aged son, Jimmy (Nolan Gross). Deeply inhaling the scent of freedom, Vian hits on the first woman he sees. She happens to be Eva Longoria, though, so who can really blame him, and despite the fact that he’s actually fairly creepy in his insistence she let him take her out and not at all a smooth talker, she gives him her number. They miraculously hit it off, even though she’s a well-educated white-collar worker and he mumbles monosyllabic enigmas throughout their interactions. Soon enough, Vian has both a girl and a job — he lands work at a pizza shop — and the whole world seems to be smiling upon him. Then, because movies require conflict, and Branaman must have taken an online screenwriting 101 course at some point, things take an inorganic, nearly laughable turn for the worse, forcing Vian to rebuild his relationships with everyone in his life.
To say “Any Day” is a bad movie doesn’t go far enough, because it’s not just bad. It’s frustrating, it’s a slap in the face of filmmakers still struggling to get a project greenlit, and it makes me wonder how so many recognizable actors came to be involved in such drivel. Branaman’s script is paint-by-numbers, less shameful for being so formulaic than for refusing to offer even any new insight or perspective while traveling down the well-trodden path it takes. In fact, in a rare occurrence of bizarro movie land, the script is so bad it’s unpredictable, a term usually reserved as praise for quality films. Branaman manages to unravel a story so implausible it becomes impossible to guess where it will go next. Characters are thrust together in unnatural ways, there’s a seemingly important bully subplot that goes absolutely nowhere, deep relationships form out of the blue and overnight, a WTF Deus Ex Machina gets Vian out of a major jam in the last 15 minutes, and a third act surprise tragedy is nothing short of maddening. I swear, you’ll most likely laugh when it happens, because there’s just no damn reason for it to occur. None. The same should really be said of the entire film.
Throughout every maddening beat, it’s clear Bean struggles to keep the film going. There’s no way he could have possibly thought it was going to turn out well once production got under way and he could watch the dailies, but one has to give him credit for trying. Walsh, too, deserves better. Even Tom Arnold (he plays Vian’s boss at the pizza parlor). Heck, Nolan Gross does what he can with Jimmy, but not even the most talented child actor working in Hollywood today could have salvaged that role. Some people know how to write kids, but Rustam Branaman is definitively not amongst their ranks. I could perhaps forgive him such monumental shortcomings if this was his first feature, but it’s not. He has scattered writing credits going all the way back to 1996, though to be fair, “Any Day” is only the third film he’s directed. Perhaps he’ll hit his stride eventually, but based on “Any Day” alone, I personally have no interest in finding out.
With such instantly classic movie lines as “Get the ‘f’ away from her” and “Love is really good,” perhaps it’s hard to imagine that “Any Day” could possibly be as bad as this review claims. The truth is, however, writing this review has required me to revisit the film, to watch it from start to finish and then to consider it more deeply than anyone would otherwise normally do with such rubbish. And I’ll be further honest — doing so has made me mad. Mad at the film. Mad that Sean Bean and Kate Walsh and Eva Longoria and everyone involved would work on such an utter turd. Mad this film has distribution, as limited as it is. Mainly, though, I’m mad that Rustam Branaman’s project made it so far; that no one sat down to address obvious script issues prior to production; and that no executive producer stepped up to save a languishing film that in such obvious need of guidance. I’m mad that so many filmmakers fight every day to transform their ideas and their screenplays — better and more deserving ideas and screenplays than this — into realized films, and yet “Any Day” is getting a release, while their screenplays remain unproduced. In that, there is no justice. [D-]