Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring:||Robert De Niro (as Frank Goode), Drew Barrymore (Rosie), Kate Beckinsale (Amy), Sam Rockwell, Lucian Maisel, Damian Young, James Frain, Melissa Leo, Katherine Moennig, Brendan Sexton III, James Murtaugh, Austin Lysy, Chandler Frantz, Lily Sheen, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Mackenzie Milone, Kene Holliday, E.J. Carroll, Lou Carbonneau, Mandell Butler, Caroline Clay, Katy Grenfell, Lynn Cohen, Jayne Houdyshell, Kelly McAndrew, Jason Harris, Julián Rebolledo, Lynn Blades, Kevin Collins, Kevin Martin, Ben Schwartz, Debargo Sanyal, Scott Cohen, Jackie Cronin, Allie Woods Jr., Sonja Stuart, Mimi Lieber, Mattie Hawkinson, Robert Niebrzydowski|
“Waking Ned Devine”
|Producer:||Miramax Films, Radar Pictures, Hollywood Gang Productions, Vittorio Cecchi Gori, Ted Field, Craig J. Flores, Callum Greene, Glynis Murray, Gianni Nunnari, Nathalie Peter-Contesse, Vitaliy Versace|
“Frank wanted to holidays to be picture perfect. What he got was family.”
In 1974 singer/songrwriter Harry Chapin released his now infamous folk rock single “Cat’s in the Cradle.” The song was about a boy’s relationship with his father, and how when he was young his father was too busy to take a vested interest in his life. But now that he’s older, he finds that he’s now too busy to spend any time with his retired father. It’s a sad but poignant song, one that speaks a lot about the importance and influence of parents in their children’s lives. It’s that spirit that embodies “Everybody’s Fine”, an American remake of a 1990 Italian film by the same name. It tells the story of a recently widowed man who decides on a whim to visit his four grown children, only to find that their lives aren’t what he thought they were all along.
Frank (Robert De Niro) worked his entire life to provide for his wife and kids. Working on pvc covering for telephone lines, he and his wife successfully raised four kids: two boys and two girls. But since the death of his wife Frank is left with an empty house and fibrosis of the lungs. When all four of his kids cancel their planned trip to visit him, Frank decides against the advice of his doctor to surprise them each with a visit. As Frank sees his kids one by one, he realizes that they all have secrets they’re keeping from him. Whether it’s their lack of success, trouble with their marriage or something else, each child has kept something from him. While they’re mother was the one they talked to, Frank was the father who only got the good news. His kids wanted him to be proud of them.
It’s tough to watch as Frank is heartbroken in each of his four visits as he realizes he’s not near as close to his kids as he once thought. He begins to question his life and just wants his kids to be happy. It’s a profound change in his life and he works hard to once again get his family together around one table for a Christmas meal.
“Everybody’s Fine” is sad, funny, touching, and ultimately redemptive. While its themes open up the possibility for some melodramatic and overly sappy moments, the film deftly handles these moments with a good sense of realism. That’s mostly because of the performance of Robert De Niro as Frank. Once considered one of America’s greatest actors, De Niro’s latest films like “Righteous Kill” and “Hide and Seek” have left quite a bit to be desired. De Niro’s performance here is quiet, understated, and emoted perfectly. It’s easily his best work of the decade.
There are several other qualities to applaud in “Everybody’s Fine” like the importance of family and honesty with each other. The objectionable content is kept to a minimum as well. There’s one scene that involves some heavy language by Frank. It’s mostly played for laughs as he is saying these words in front of his grandson and keeps apologizing, but in the scene he uses several heavy profanities. Also the film alludes to one of the kids having some homosexual tendencies, but it’s kept to a minimum.
While the boy in Chapin’s song never rekindled that relationship with his father, “Everybody’s Fine” offers the chance for others not to make the same mistake. It also will immediately remind the viewer of their own family life, good or bad, and how their relationship with their father is. It made this reviewer thankful for a father who was always involved and proud of his son no matter what he did, and that’s irreplaceable. Merry Christmas, Pops.
Violence: None / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild
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