Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Everybody's Fine
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:18
everybodys_fine_poster_01Despite the count-down of the advent calendar there seems to be a decidedly chilly tone to most of the movies in theatres this holiday season. We are not being barraged by the usual blizzard of Christmas movies. Drama and action movies are outweighing the feel-good family fare. Recent premieres included Brothers – a dramatic thriller; and The Road – a post-apocalyptic nightmare. Both are heavy dramas and sound interesting, but depressing. So I chose to see Everybody’s Fine, the one movie that looked like it might infuse me with some much-needed Christmas spirit.

On the poster Robert DeNiro is shown mugging for the camera with a smiling family and a Christmas tree in the background. Just your typical light-hearted holiday fluff right? Boy was I ever wrong! This is probably the single most depressing movie I’ve seen all year – and I’ve seen plenty. For one, it has almost nothing to do with Christmas. Not a single snowflake or sparkling tree to be found until about the last five minutes of the movie. Ok, no problem; I can live with that. If it wasn’t for the fact that I wanted to stab myself repeatedly with a fork just to make the sadness (and the movie) end!

everybody-s-fine-0DeNiro plays Frank Goode, a retiree whose wife has recently passed away. As the movie opens Frank is going about his daily chores, getting ready for a visit from his four grown-up kids. He tidies the yard and even buys a new BBQ and some expensive wine. Then the phone starts ringing as each one of his children call with excuses to cancel. It’s all emotionally down-hill from here folks.

Frank decides if the kids can’t come to him, he’ll go to his kids. Ignoring doctors’ orders he boards trains, busses and planes in an effort to surprise each member of his family. First he tries David, the New York artist who is away when Dad comes to call. Next Amy (Kate Beckinsdale), the ad exec whose home life seems a little strained; Robert (Sam Rockwell), who lied about being a conductor and is content to bang a drum; and Rosie (Drew Barrymore), a Vegas dancer quick to flaunt her wealth. All of them rush Dad away and he realizes their lives might not be as perfect as they pretend. Along the way he is constantly lonely, disappointed and dejected – and so is the audience.

everybodys_fine_12The fact is that this movie doesn’t just lack a Christmas spirit but lacks any spirit or energy whatsoever. As it drones on in length the scenes get less interesting, less involving and the characters get less likeable. Frank is such a sad character and a man filled with regret, but he is also very boring. There are hints that he was once a hard man to deal with and a tough father, but we don’t ever really get to see him fleshed out. Robert DeNiro puts in an admirable attempt but the material just isn’t there. Drew Barrymore breathes in a little life as Rosie and Sam Rockwell is probably the most believable character of the bunch as Robert.

Everybody’s Fine should have been titled “Everybody’s Barely Getting By”, or “Everybody’s Got a Pulse, Almost”. Bland, boring and bitter, in my opinion this movie is anything but fine.