Dave's Rating:

2.5

No they're not.

Who's In It: Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Katherine Moennig, Brendan Sexton III

The Basics: An aging widower with four estranged adult children attempts to force a reconnection by traveling to visit each one of them (and take them by surprise, a nice revenge after they all bailed at once on a planned gathering) over the course of a week. During the cross-country bus and train trip you learn that his big sin, the reason they all can't stand to be near him, was that he wasn't a good listener while they were growing up and that he demanded they make something of themselves. Meanwhile, across the multiplex hall, Precious's mom is throwing frying pans at her.

What's The Deal: The Christmas tree and the smiling faces on the ads and poster for the film are a big fat lie. You should know that before you go see it. Until the warm-hearted, third-act, father-and-child-reunion rolls around (that's not a spoiler either, you're basically guaranteed that sort of thing), this entire movie is a low-key wallow in lonely retiree sadness. It's the kind of viewing experience that will only instill dread in the heart of any late-middle-aged person who doesn't already have a warm, loving family they can count on. So if you're over, say, 60 and reading this review, stay far away from it. Go see a comedy instead. Life's too short as it is.

What's Good About It: DeNiro. After all the Fockers movies and crap like Righteous Kill, you could be forgiven for wondering if he was ever going to do decent work again. If he weren't as understated as he is here, nothing would be right. As it is, he manages to rise above the gloom and occasionally move you.

Want To Be Even More Depressed? Then be sure to also not-see the 1990 Italian film it's based on, Stanno tutti bene, from director Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso). In the original version, the father--played by Marcello Mastroianni--really is kind of a jerk and the ending is about as happy as a decaying nursing home.

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