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Family Life Isn't All It Seems
Everybody's Fine (DVD)
Member Name: cazkins
Everybody's Fine (DVD)
Advantages: Recognisable cast, De Niro plays his role well, thought-provoking
Disadvantages: Under-developed characters, slow at times
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from this having not heard of it before coming across it whilst browsing Amazon. Whilst it's not my 'usual cuppa tea', it was easy enough to watch with a strong cast to pull it through and make it worthwhile.
Everybody's Fine was directed, and in part written, by Kirk Jones, who hasn't done much I recognise though he did also direct Nanny McPhee. We're introduced to Frank Goode (Robert De Niro), a father who now lives on his own in NY since becoming a widower. His heart trouble on top of his bereavement has given him a refreshed perspective, because even though his kids worry about him, he wants to ensure he sees them all again soon in the spirit of making the most of life.
His 'kids' are now actually all grown up, each one of the four being a success story in Frank's eyes, who is obviously very proud of them. He suggests getting them back together again from their far reaching corners of the country for a family reunion. Unfortunately, his children start to bail on the plans, much to Frank's disappointment. Knowing something must be up, he doesn't want to relent and let them slip away or hide secrets from him, especially if it's because they don't want to upset him with his heart troubles.
He takes another option, because he's determined to see them. Although on meds and having been advised not to travel such distances, he makes a trip to see his artist son in NY, another son in Denver, a daughter in Vegas and another daughter in Chicago (an advertising executive, no less). The kids obviously love their father, but something isn't quite right. No one is that happy to see him, some seem to be avoiding him, and something just isn't the same. He has memories, expectations and thoughts of what his children are like and what they're currently up to with their work and personal lives, but it seems that things have changed.
Without going in to any more detail, the rest of the film just takes us through Frank's journeys to see his kids, and whether or not they will tell him the truth of their lives. I thought this was quite a good premise, because no adult wants to let their parent down when they've told them they're doing well. They don't want to worry or disappoint, and this came across well in the film. However, I did feel that at times it was quite slow, focusing more on being a thought-provoking, quite sad, drama piece; it could have had some more excitement to keep it feeling fresh throughout.
The cast was strong, with other names including Drew Barrymore (Rosie), Sam Rockwell (Robert) and Kate Beckinsale (Amy). This gave the film a sense of being good quality and authenticity, and they made it interesting to watch because, on the whole, they played the roles well. However, I did think at times that character development could be been knocked up a notch to increase viewer empathy and identification. Having said that, De Niro was fantastic as Frank, as I had expected he would be, coming across as the father you'd want to have and simply wanting to see him healthy and happy by the end of the film.
This is quite a sad but meaningful tale that doesn't over do aspects for the sake of Hollywood or the big names included in the cast. It's premise, whilst simple, is quite touching and it was interesting and easy to watch; by the end I realised I had felt absorbed and enjoyed it from start to finish enough so that it made me reflect on my own life and family.
DVD released 2011, rated Certificate 12
Selling on Amazon for £3.49
Summary: Quite sad but thought-provoking to watch with a good performance as expected by De Niro