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Review: Everybody's Fine

Dec. 2, 2009by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: A retired widower (Robert De Niro) hits the road in hopes of reconnecting with his grown children- none of whom seem to be as happy or successful as he presumed.

REVIEW: EVERYBODYS FINE is something of a comeback for star Robert De Niro. While hes done enough brilliant work over the years to ensure his place among the legends of cinema, his recent output has been underwhelming to say the least. His last two films (WHAT JUST HAPPENED, and RIGHTEOUS KILL) were depressingly bad, leading many to wonder why De Niro seemed to be phoning it in these days.

Luckily, EVERYBODYS FINE is the best movie De Niros been in for years, but I know thats not saying much. Its not a fantastic film, but its a solid family drama (although definitely not award-worthy). Its actually a remake of an Italian film from the nineties, with De Niro playing the role played by Marcello Mastroianni.

As the family patriarch, De Niros pretty inspired casting, as hes supposed to be playing a father figure that, while loving, was very intimidating, and really- whos more intimidating than De Niro? Intimidation aside, hes a likable enough fellow, who truly loves his kids, although one gets the sense that he was maybe a tad too judgmental and demanding as they were growing up- leading to his now adult children not being comfortable coming to him with their problems.

As the children, we get Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymore. While none of them look even vaguely like De Niro, all three are solid in their roles, even if they come off as a bit bratty. Rockwell especially, comes off as a bit of a jackass, with his failed musician character seemingly blaming his father for everything thats wrong in his life. None of the roles are particularly well-developed, as this is De Niros show all the way. It would have been nice if the screen time had allowed the children more depth, but luckily, despite their two-dimensionality, they never come off as caricatures.

My big problem with EVERYBODYS FINE is that it gets way too melodramatic in the last twenty five minutes, with De Niros character not only suffering a health crisis, but also learning something disturbing about his fourth child- who gets no screen time. Everything comes to a head in a sappy final confrontation with the kids, before finally giving us a standard, saccharine ending- before rolling the closing credits over a new composition from Paul McCartney that, like the film, is good enough, but lacks any edge, or depth. The same can be said for the sugary sweet musical score, which doesnt allow for much subtlety- but, is somehow appropriate, as subtlety is not something this film will very be accused of being. Nevertheless, I enjoyed EVERYBODYS FINE for the most part, although Im still waiting far a new De Niro film thatll rank alongside the classics he made between 1972- 1999. As the title presumes, EVERYBODYS FINE is just that- fine.

RATING: 7/10



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