In December, Robert De Niro aimed to take advantage of the feel-good holiday spirit with Everybody's Fine, a lighthearted drama about a father trying to reconnect with his grown kids. The movie flopped, and understandably so. The previews did a great job of marketing the movie as a dreadfully boring and forgettable drama. Way to go, team. But, with its DVD release this week, Everybody's Fine gets a second chance, and it's worth it.
In Everybody's Fine, De Niro plays widower Frank Goode, who is devastated when all four of his children bail on him for Christmas. Instead of being deterred, he decides to defy his doctor's orders and visit each of his kids. Afraid of flying, he travels by train and bus, meeting strangers along the way. Unfortunately, as he shows up at each of his kids' doorsteps, he realizes that he isn't being told the whole truth about their lives, careers and his one estranged son.
Everybody's Fine is one of those movies that looked so boring that had Miramax not sent it to me, I likely wouldn't have even put it on my Netflix list. Yes, it looked that uninteresting. As shown in the previews, the movie is a lighthearted drama, one that lacks that overarching power necessary to compete with the big boys. There's nothing spectacular about the picture - hence its lack of awards recognition - but it does have more weight than first appearances let on. Ultimately, Everybody's Fine is an enjoyable little movie.
The movie works for no particular reason, other than that director Kirk Jones (the man behind 1998's hilarious film Waking Ned Devine) does a superb job of taking a story that lacks impact and turning it into a well-paced, mildly engaging picture. It does pick up steam as it goes along, exemplified by a revelatory scene that can almost be described as a twist ending. Jones sets the puzzle just right, despite each piece on its own playing an inconsequential part. De Niro, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore all turn in fine performances that match the movie's subtle style. None of their performances, nor their characters, are exceptional, but they work nonetheless.
There isn't a lot that Everybody's Fine has to work with, and yet it turns out OK.
The DVD, available February 23, 2010, contains a few deleted and extended scenes and a featurette on the making of Paul McCartney's "(I Want To) Come Home."
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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