Everybody's Fine Directed by: Kirk Jones Cast: Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: December 4, 2009
PLOT: After Frank's wife passes away he's left in the position to try and keep up with his children. When they all cancel a visit to see him, he get's worried and travels across the country to spend time with his children.
WHO'S IT FOR? It's more for the older crowd. Those people out there who don't exactly have open communication with their children could learn a lesson or two I guess.
EXPECTATIONS: De Niro gets to act. That's what in looked like based on the trailer. Actually, it looked like they couldn't get Jack Nicholson, so they were able to get possibly the next best thing.
ACTORS: Robert De Niro as Frank: Frank is a simple man. His job was to wrap pvc coating around phone lines. He didn't have loafty dreams for himself, but instead he pushed his children. De Niro's performance makes Frank a nice, boring man. We don't really see any anger that might have had the kids worried about their lot in life. He has an artistic family, and loves knowing the highlights of their lives. The sticking point comes when he must decide if he can handle all the baggage his kids have. Score: 6
Drew Barrymore as Rosie: Each child has a secret. If you stop and think about it, it's easily discovered. Rosie is a dancer in Las Vegas. When Frank visits, she shows off a great apartment and they barely have time to speak. Score: 5
Sam Rockwell as Robert: This is the closest we get to seeing the type of pressure Frank puts on his kids. Robert is in the percussion section of an orchestra. Frank thought he was a conductor. We just get one conversation about Frank thinking it's a waste of education and talent. Robert seems content. Shouldn't that be the end of that? Once again, we are whisked away. Score: 6
Kate Beckinsale as Amy: She's the successful adverstising executive ... but something's going on at her mansion back home. Frank heads to her house first for a surprise. There's a nice moment where she includes Frank at a pitch meeting at the office. Then again, it's about a talking fish. Score: 5
TALKING: It's all half conversations. There is another sibling we haven't spoken of yet ... it's David. That's where the phone conversations come into play. It's obvious Frank feels left out of his family, and knows they are keeping things from him. None of it ever feels warranted though. Score: 4
SIGHTS: This could be a commercial for Greyhound, Amtrak and AT&T. Frank travels the country in less than a week, but doesn't like planes. Any time a phone conversation takes place, we get shots of pvc pipes, so we don't forget that's what Frank did for a living. The worst though ... the little kids. Any time Frank sees his children for the first time, he sees the young version. Then there is some awful dream sequences as well. They just don't fit in this film. It'd be one thing if Frank hadn't seen his kids for decades, but that's not the case. Score: 3
SOUNDS: "Catch a Falling Star" by Perry Como is a great start to this film. It's simple and peppy, exactly what we hope out of Frank. Badly Drawn Boy shows up later with a song as well. Score: 6
BEST SCENE: There is obvious chemistry between De Niro and Rockwell. It would have been nice if these two actors could have had more time together. But, I guess to keep the story moving, Robert had to lie and say he was off to Europe.
ENDING: Everybody's fine.
QUESTIONS: No matter the past, if my children lie to me when one of my kid's safety is in question ... I'm pissed. And was Frank really that bad of a dad that they all felt they couldn't confide in him? And don't expect me to care about David if I never get to know him.
REWATCHABILITY: No thank you. The added element of mystery, and Frank trying to figure out the full story just isn't compelling enough.
In real life, the shortcomings of Frank's children might be compelling. In movie life the stakes need to be raised. Frank is simple, but not stupid. Each child scurries him along, trying to keep little secrets, and one big one, out of his reach. It's an odd combination of trying to spare him, and not being able to trust him with the truth. Why didn't Frank ever visit his kids before this? It's never really explained. Instead we get him having mild flashbacks of life when his kids were little. Everybody's Fine does its best to get you crying at the end. And I should have been a wreck. My father just went through a major heart attack and we've had baggage. I should have been curled up in a ball by the end. Awkward story telling gets in the way, with dream sequences that don't work and a mild revelation that, everybody's fine, despite some baggage. And when you're done watching this movie, the major thought will be, "it's fine." Though you should still go call your dad. It does work on that level.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10