“EVERYBODY’S FINE” (Robert DeNiro, Kate Beckensale, Sam Rockwell & Drew Barrymore)
With a plotline very similar to ‘About Schmidt’, ‘Everybody’s Fine’ fails because it is a much weaker film.
It was nice to see DeNiro attempt to play a ‘normal’ guy; his latest films have been huge failures, although I kind of liked ‘What Just Happened’, but his legend has been tarnished with the roles he has selected of late. The downside is – he’s too bland in ‘Everybody’s Fine’, I kept thinking ‘Nicholson was much more entertaining when he played this role!’
DeNiro’s Frank, whose wife died 8 months earlier, invites his 4 grown children to visit him & they all decline the invitation due to “Now is just not a good time.”
Frank decides to disobey his doctor’s orders not to travel & go visit his children. From the way Frank drones on & on about his grown children, you’d think he was a loving, caring father; but we learn that Frank was the disciplinarian in the family & that the ‘kids’ could always talk to ‘Mom’ but not to dad. 3 of the 4 offspring seem grateful to Dad for pushing them to be ‘the best that they could be’, yet you also get the feeling that they resent him a little for it as well.
Son Charlie is not at his N.Y. apartment when Frank drops by unexpectedly, so Frank slides an envelope under his door with a ‘sorry I missed you’ note.
As Frank rides the train west, he bores his fellow passengers numb by making them guess what he did for a living (giving the one clue of ‘you’ve been looking at it since we boarded’) “Please, Mr.,” the female across from him begs, “I don’t know & I don’t want to guess anymore!”
In Chicago, daughter Amy (Kate Beckensale) seems to be doing quite well for herself running an advertisement agency – the only humorous scene in the movie is when 2 gay salesmen ‘pitch’ their ad campaign to Frank for his ‘everyman’ approval – but Amy’s home life is a different story as her husband & son don’t seem to like one another.
In Denver, son Robert (Sam Rockwell) has led dad to believe he’s the conductor of the Denver Symphony when in reality he’s just one of the drummers. Still, Robby tells his father he’s happy, though he doesn’t seem to be (“They pay me to make noise all day – how can that not be fun?”)
In Vegas, the most cheerful sibling, Drew Barrymore’s Rosie, actually appears to be living her dream – dancing in Vegas shows & living in a luxurious apartment. The only downside appears to be an intruding neighbor that begs Rosie to watch her baby for her, disrupting the father & daughter’s dinner plans. This time it is Frank who cuts the visit short when he overhears a phone call & realizes things aren’t quite so rosy for Rosie.
Frank’s flight home & his subsequent awareness of Charlie’s actual whereabouts should have led to a dramatic, heartfelt ending, but for some reason, I didn’t care that much about these people so it didn’t affect me that much. Was it due to DeNiro’s ‘blah’ performance? Maybe, I’m not sure – he was ‘okay’ in the role – perhaps it was due to the fact that I expected more from him. Barrymore didn’t bug me as much as she normally does & Rockwell, whom I felt gave the best performance of the cast, was still a little stiff as well. So everyone isn’t fine in ‘Everybody’s Fine’, but if they had called it ‘About Frank’ that wouldn’t have worked either...