Review: Everybody’s Fine

Everybody’s Fine is an interesting look at family life for a widower but lacks any real plot or enlightening meaning to really make us admire it beyond its performances.
Kirk Jones’ film is a remake of an Italian film of the same name and stars Robert De Niro as said widower, Frank, who decides to spontaneously visit his children who are now spread all around the country after he fails to get them all to visit. As he heads out on to the road we learn that one of his sons, David, is in some sort of trouble in Mexico and his other children shuffle him along to one another keeping the issue a secret from him. David was the first child he visited, who obviously wasn’t home, and then he moves on to Amy, Robert, and Rosie in succession. And that is about the crux of the whole story and nothing much happens along the way leading to a rather dull plot, if you could call it that, to follow.
The most interesting and eventful stop is with his son Robert, who is played by Sam Rockwell, in which Frank gets a cold hard punch of truth when he finds that his son is not the aspiring conductor he was lead to believe by both his wife and Robert. It is hear it really begins to hit home with Frank and us that his kids aren’t entirely truthful and have a fairly poor connection with him.  Rockwell plays the part extremely well on top of this being a bit neurotic and looking like he is going to break and let out the secret around David at any minute. Rockwell’s work here does touch his best, but he still brings a lot to the part regardless.
Kate Beckinsale plays Amy and gives off the seemingly perfect little life with her huge house and happy family, though there seems to be a rift between her son and his father. Beckinsale does a fine job at selling us on the outside but showing enough behind her skin that there is something not quite right going on with her. Subtle and very well done, Beckinsale’s work is very well done and bounces right off De Niro as she turns in some fine work.
Drew Barrymore plays Rosie whom Frank visits in Vegas and this visit goes as smoothly as any of the others with Frank learning a bit more about his kids he didn’t expect. Barrymore is very good here, sweet and charming, and she and De Niro have some great chemistry. She doesn’t have to show a lot of range but regardless she comes across as the most likeable kid of the bunch.
De Niro is in good form as well in a role that definitely puts him out of his normal bubble. Playing an ordinary middle class man is something we never really get to see from this fine actor and he eases right into the role. Really diving head first into the character he has a handful of little beats and tricks up his sleeve that give the character a real sense of authenticity. It is some of De Niro’s finer turns in years and hopefully he can keep this level of work going for some time.
With all that said about the performances there isn’t a whole lot to enjoy beyond that. The meetings are uneventful with the children, the attempt to create tension or an over arching plot with the mystery surrounding David’s incident doesn’t really work, and while the actors work well together their interactions are nothing we haven’t seen before. The gimmick with the younger version of the kids works at first but goes overboard once they all get together; you’ll know what scene I mean, and the tension attempted around Frank’s medication seem all a bit to contrived.
In the end, Everybody’s Fine is a finely acted film with a couple sweet moments thrown in throughout the picture. All this can’t overcome the plot less narrative and the fact that nothing interesting really happens the whole film. While the film does manage to not stray into sappy sentimentality, well almost, the overall experience is rather dull and quite sorrow. This is quite contrary to the ads for the film which are selling it as a warm family comedy of sorts, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I would wait to rent this picture, as it is worth watching, but it is a rather sad little film that will not blow you away by any means.
Everybody’s Fine is a C-

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