The title is very misleading. Everybody is not fine in Everybody's Fine
, and everything is not fine with the film. Watching Robert De Niro play a widower who travels the country trying to connect with his grown kids feels rather pointless, like we've now taken a trip to the dysfunctional family well one time too many. There's little in the way of any real character development, which left me feeling like I was watching pretty people going through the motions of playing a family, rather than an actual family unit in turmoil.
is flat, failing to evoke any emotional response despite what looks on paper to be a heart-wrenching story. De Niro leads the cast and is the string that's suppossed to hold everyone together. Yet even De Niro can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. With little to work with, De Niro is left to wander through scenes trying to make some sort of connection with Kate Beckinsale
, Sam Rockwell
, and Drew Barrymore
– the actors cast as his children. But De Niro and his co-stars never lose themselves in these characters, and never sell that family bond.
Frank Goode (De Niro) has too much time on his hands and nothing to do other than garden. His wife passed away and his four successful children have all moved to other cities and are busy leading their own lives. Lost and lonely, Frank decides it's time to get the family back together for a weekend at his house. They all agree, and then at the last minute, cancel due to obligations at work or at home. So Frank decides if they're not going to come to him, he'll pay each of them a surprise visit.
Sam Rockwell and Robert De Niro in 'Everybody's Fine.'© Miramax Films
First up is Danny, the artist. Strangely enough, Danny's not home when Frank comes calling in the middle of the night. He waits around for a while, but Danny never appears. So next up he heads off to Amy's house. It's a gorgeous but sterile home, fit for the pages of a designer magazine. Amy (Beckinsale) is an executive with a busy schedule who quickly shuttles her dad off to the next sibling, Robert (Rockwell). Frank has always believed his musically-inclined son is a conductor, but it turns out Robert bangs a drum for a living. Robert also sends Frank on his way quickly, with the final stop being Rosie's Las Vegas pad. Rosie (Barrymore) actually connects with her father better than the other two siblings, and she's sad when he says he has to return home after being there for only one night.
Why do his offspring push their father away so quickly? Because they're all hiding secrets, including the truth about the missing son, David. Frank realizes something is up and in a bizarre, jarring dream sequence he confronts the younger versions of his kids about their lies and cover-ups.
The Bottom Line
There must have been something in the script that made these well-known actors sign up, but whatever it was that was too appealing to pass over didn't make its way to the screen. You can sort of see an interesting story lurking in the background of Everybody's Fine
, but this isn't going to go down in history as any of these actors' best work. It's forgettable, contrived, and unconvincing. I'm anything but fine with Everybody's Fine
Everybody's Fine was directed by Kirk Jones and is rated PG-13 for thematical elements and brief strong language.
Theatrical Release Date: December 4, 2009
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Robert De Niro and Drew Barrymore in 'Everybody's Fine.'© Miramax Films