Everybody's Fine isn’t fine.
The trailer, TV commercials and the film’s marketing are pushing this as a happy family comedy.
It is not. Robert De Niro is Frank Goode, a widower wondering why his children aren’t coming home for a holiday dinner. When they won’t come to him, he goes to them. Frank is a retired workaholic perfectionist who drove his children to become his vision of them.
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His surprise visits yield other — unexpected — surprises.
Everybody’s Fine is a holiday family flick about a man in crisis. It quietly wonders how someone can know his children for 30 or more years and not really know a thing about them. Frank knows all about communication lines, but he is incapable of a developing a line of communication.
Basing his screenplay on a 1990 Italian movie, writer/director Kirk Jones punctuates Frank’s dilemma with conversations from one kid to the next on the phone wires he worked so hard to make. What do we do with dad?
The kids are connected. Mom saw to that. But doing dad is a drag.
Jones (Waking Ned Devine) gets great supporting performances out of Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale but the movie belongs to De Niro who milks miles out of long, thoughtful silence.
Everybody’s Fine isn’t completely fine. Jones, script and cast jerk your emotional chain a bit, and there are places where you will feel manipulated. It’s a minor complaint. Bring a couple of hankies.
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Friday, Dec. 4 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.