VOD film review: Everybody’s Fine
Ivan | On 23, Jun 2014
Director: Kirk Jones
Cast: Robert De Niro, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore
Watch Everybody’s Fine online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Apple TV (iTunes) / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
You know when you ask someone how they are and they say they’re fine, but they’re not fine? Everybody’s Fine is two hours of that. After his wife dies, Frank (De Niro) finds he has no contact with his children anymore, so he decides to drop in on each of them around the country, completely unannounced. They all say that they’re fine. But they’re not fine.
Meet Amy (Beckinsale). She’s a successful, married ad exec, living the high life with a kid and a modern house. She says she’s fine. But she’s not fine. Her husband left ages ago and her son blames them both. Rosie (Barrymore) is a dancer in Vegas. She says she’s fine. But she’s not fine. She’s raising a baby with no daddy. And finally, Robert (Rockwell), a celebrated conductor and musician. He says he’s fine. But he’s not fine. His dreams have left him playing percussion at the back of the orchestra. As for eldest son David? Well, he’s missing in Mexico, not that anyone’s telling Frank.
And so the drama continues, part road movie and part family reunion. Of course, Frank meets people on the bus and train as he goes, having life affirming conversations and staring out at expansive landscapes – he tells all and sundry about his old career, making the PVC coating for telephone wires. And, naturally, he has a prescription at Chekov’s Pharmacy he needs to take for some ailing medical condition. There aren’t many boxes left to tick – and any that are left are covered up by the treacle being ladled on top with a trowel.
At times, Kirk Jones avoids excessive sentimentality, relying on a subdued Robert De Niro to show his more relaxed, human side. Placing him alongside a kid playing golf, or sitting him with a squeaky suitcase in front of San Rockwell’s orchestra reaps sweet results. But otherwise, the director of Nanny McPhee strays hopelessly into twee cliched territory. A daydream fantasy where Frank’s children (magically appearing seven years old again) explicitly tell him the truth about their lives at a rainy BBQ is a huge mistake.
It’s a shame given the talent on show. Barrymore and Beckinsale are better than this, as is Rockwell. And De Niro can do pathos, but he can’t swim through a sea of melodrama. So instead he drones on and on about telephone wires. It’s a touch almost as wry as the title, Everybody’s Fine. It’s a bit like irony. If irony were dunked in a vat of brie. Family may be a big thing in Italy, but this cheesy American remake of Stanno Tutti Bene makes Tornatore’s original look like The Godfather. Everybody’s Fine. This is not.
Everybody’s Fine is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.