One of Miramax’s last big flops was Kirk Jones’ Everybody’s Fine. The film’s initial release stirred up premature Oscar buzz for star Robert De Niro, but eventually that fizzled out when the film failed to find an audience, despite having a holiday/family get-together center that usually caters to the masses anytime from November through December.
De Niro’s heartfelt performance is ultimately wasted on a drama that ends on the melodramatic side, when it could have easily gone in many other directions. Everybody’s Fine isn’t nearly as dry or dull as most claim it to be, but it does drop the ball more than it rightfully should.
Frank Goode (Robert De Niro) is a retired widower that’s experiencing the last down-swing of getting old. He’s lonely and spends most of his day gardening or thinking back on memories he had with his four children. He now realizes that maybe he was a little too harsh on them and to make up for it he’d like to host a family get together where he can reconnect with them all.
His daughters Rosie (Drew Barrymore) and Amy (Kate Beckinsale) are both living in different parts of the country, with Rosie establishing a name for herself in Las Vegas and Amy leading an advertising firm. His sons Robert (Sam Rockwell) and David are living their dreams too, with Robert composing and making music and David continuing his career as an artist.
Frank’s entire family seems to be living the dream that is later revealed as a lie when Frank goes to visit them individually after they all back out of the family’s holiday plans. He soon discovers that all of his children are hiding something from him and it’s this “something” that contributes to the film’s downfall.
Director Kirk Jones shifts away from the usual lighter family drama and instead shoots Everybody’s Fine with an adult lens. The drama here is something that will resonate more with adults than kids and that aspect alone makes the film slightly unexpected. It helps that De Niro actually seems to care about his character and providing the proper dramatic chops to make Frank’s characteristics sort of charming and innocent. De Niro’s sincerity seeps through as the character of Frank reaches a low-end realization that’s both sad and depressing. It’s great watching De Niro flex these muscles that we haven’t seen him use in years, but it sucks knowing that his performance will mostly go over as something no one else watched.
Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore give each of Frank’s children their own unique set of problems and secrets that interact with Frank distinctively, making each one of Frank’s visits slightly different from the last. Rockwell shines as the most likable of the bunch, but mostly because of the way the character of Robert is written.
Everybody’s Fine sinks into predictability towards the finale. Some might be more forgiving than others, because the performances really are the brightest things about this down-in-the-dumps family drama, but others will call the film out for its overused drama and failure to pick up after an ending reveal that’s completely telegraphed and unhelpful to the film’s already struggling problems.
Lionsgate brings the film to Blu-Ray with a 1080p video transfer that is sharp and very natural-looking. There’s a lot of heavy noise during the film’s darker exterior scenes, but most of that can be cancelled out with the excellent facial detail that shows you all of the wrinkles and imperfections that come with aging. There’s also a very light hazing stretched across almost the entire transfer, giving it a glowing look that I’m marking down as intentional.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is another serviceable affair that never drops a line of dialogue, while also keeping things lively whenever De Niro hits the road by bus or train. It’s not the most exhilarating track, but it gets the job done and then some.
Everybody’s Fine is sprinkled with a light assortment of bonus content. Here’s a list:
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD)
- The Making of Paul McCartney’s I Want to Come Home (HD)
Everybody’s Fine will no doubtingly take its rightful place on the TNT or USA networks as one of those family dramas that you’ll have no problem watching around the holiday season, but probably not any other time of the year. I’d like to consider myself more forgiving than most, because I really love seeing De Niro full of so much life and energy. There’s no denying that Kirk Jones’ film steals lots from TV show storylines and melodramas on the Hallmark channel, but there’s something about Everybody’s Fine that makes it work, if only for a short time.
Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine is 2/3 a sturdy family drama, anchored by a four pack of suitable performances and a touching story that gets a little too hammy and cliche during its third act.