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December 06, 2009
Review - " Everybody's Fine "  -  (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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The one thing that makes "Everybody's Fine" such a good film, more than anything else, is the writing. From the opening
sequence with Frank doing menial household chores and yard work, a delightfully warm and slightly humorous (in a cute way)
portrait is painted. This is a side of De Niro the audience isn’t quite used to seeing from the actor best known for TAXI
DRIVER and GOODFELLAS, to name a few. Immediately, the audience accepts Frank as a likable guy.

The film was written and directed by Kirk Jones
and is a fairly sentimental story. In many ways,
it’s a story not far removed from the classical
Christmas tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. No, Frank
isn’t a scrooge, but he is a man who learns a
lot about himself through reflections on his life
during a journey. Once set out on his trip by
train, bus, and even catching a ride with a truck
driver at one point, Frank begins to experience
little moments of epiphany, one at a time,
learning something about himself, his past and
even about the world as it is today. Frank is
revealed as a man not only secluded from his
own children’s lives, but from the real world as
a whole. His eyes begin to open slowly to the
real effects he has had on his children, but
finds the mystery in their behavior around him
now disconcerting and uncomfortable.

De Niro gives an understated but effectively authentic comeback performance after a string of films that have been less than
stellar. His performance, as well as the film in general, is filled with tiny little moments of reflection and comfortable silence
that speak volumes about where Frank is emotionally. His doubts, his fears and his hurt feelings resonate on screen with
subtlety. The strength of “"Everybody's Fine"” is watching De Niro slowly transform Frank into a father willing to listen and
accept his children for who they are and not who he wanted them to be.
Everybody's Fine
directed by Kirk Jones
Starring: Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, Sam

It’s refreshing to see Robert De Niro shove aside his tough guy
screen persona now and then, to remind viewers used to his antics
that beyond his icy glare and powder keg temper lies a uniquely
sensitive actor. “Everybody’s Fine” is a thorough tear-jerker, but the
feature earns most of its sentiment, due in great part to De Niro and
his gentle, worrywart lead performance.

"Everybody's Fine" stars Robert De Niro as Frank, an aging father
who looks forward to a family reunion with his four children. He hasn’t
seen his kids, now all grown, since his wife’s death eight months prior.
As Frank meticulously puts his home and garden in order the phone
starts ringing. Each “kid” begs off the reunion, using last-minute
excuses that sound like just that excuses. Already feeling his life
turned upside down, living on his own, he now begins to realize a void
in his relationship with his kids. Frank decides to take a trip across
the country to surprise his children with visits at their homes. Frank’s
children are portrayed by a well-known cast, featuring Kate
Beckinsale as Amy (the advertising executive); Sam Rockwell as
Robert (the conductor); and Drew Barrymore plays Rosie (the
dancer). David (the artist) is mysteriously absent from most of the
story, as Frank embarks on his journey to visit all four of his children.

"Everybody's Fine" is endearing,
occasionally funny and well played by the
whole cast. The story hits the heartstrings
with a gentle strumming that is neither
overpowering nor sappy. The film as a
whole is a “feel good” movie, but requires
some genuine emotional sacrifice before the
payoff comes through.