Everybody’s Fine

| March 1, 2010

As you may have guessed from the title, Everybody is Not Fine in this unfortunate and frustrating movie by Kirk Jones.
It’s the story of a man named Frank Goode (Robert DeNiro) and his trip around the country to visit his four children. After they all call to cancel their planned visit to his house for a family reunion, Frank gets his medication and lies to his doctor and gets on buses to visit his family. He tries to start with his son David in New York (there is a scene on that train in which he passes by a building that looks REMARKABLY like the facility center near the tracks of the Skokie-Swift….), but David is not home, so after 2 days he gives up and goes to visit Amy (Kate Beckinsale) in Chicago. It’s there we start learning about why David wasn’t in New York. And through phone conversations we learn that Amy coaches her siblings on how best to lie to their father about their disappointing lives (“just like momma used to do”).
Frank moves on to Robert in California, and finally Rosie in Vegas. None of his children are happy to see him, and they get him out of their hair as quickly as possible. On his way back home, Frank has a heart attack on his plane and finally, all of his children are around the same… er, hospital bed.
Its running time is only 100 minutes, but the pace of the movie is almost unbearable. And, as with any family story in which the children are resentful of their parent/s and whine about their miserable upbringing (still, now, in their adulthood), you can’t sympathize with anyone. Kate Beckinsale is a good actress, but her character was the most thankless. She did nothing but lie, the entire time. None of the plot twists come as any kind of surprise, and it’s a major relief when some truth finally starts being spoken at the hospital.
Sam Rockwell, normally known for playing quirky, slightly manic characters, seems mis-cast in this movie. He plays a percussionist in a small-time orchestra, and his character does nothing but tell his father how much he resents him, after all these years, and how he knows what a disappointment he is. Rockwell’s also a good actor, but either the character’s desperate justification that he actually likes his life, despite it not being exactly what his father wanted for him, seems disingenuous.
Drew Barrymore’s Rosie is somewhat of a relief. She’s such a sunny actress, after a movie of depressive siblings, you are relieved to see her. Her cutesy, pandering relationship with her father is realistic, and understandable. She’s the youngest daughter, the one who still has the best relationship with her father, even though it’s mostly predicated on lies.
DeNiro is amazing in this movie, however. He manages to become a character you are compelled to watch, however pathetic. He’s simple, understated… brilliant. It’s just not quite enough to merit watching the rest of the movie. A real disappointment.

About the Author:

Heather Trow is a nursing assistant and part-time writer. When she is not writing, she is listening to the popular podcast "NEVER NOT FUNNY". Actually, at any given time, most likely, she is listening to the podcast. It's pretty much all she does besides work. It is her favorite thing.
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