Jen's Rating:

4.0

Planes, trains, and a box of tissue.

Who’s In It: Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale, Melissa Leo

The Basics: Recent widower Frank Goode (Robert De Niro) is coping with the loss of his wife and the monotony of retirement by planning a family gathering for his spread-out brood. When all four of his adult children bail at the last minute, Frank comes up with a splendid idea: if the kids won’t come to him, he’ll go visit them! (Mom, don’t get any ideas.) But as Frank crosses the country to visit and check in on the children (Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, Kate Beckinsale) he finds that showing up unannounced on their doorsteps wasn’t such a good idea after all because when the little ones grow up, they all become self-involved jerks too busy to spend time with Dad. Worse, they’re keeping a secret. Bring tissue.

What’s The Deal: If you go in expecting a comedy for the AARP set, you might just wind up with smeared mascara running down your cheeks with your finger on the speed dial button to Mom or Dad. Everybody’s Fine is a sucker punch to the heart, a dramedy about parents and their children and the inevitable distance that grows as kids leave the nest to pursue their own lives. At times, it’s a road comedy starring De Niro (who is finally beginning to look like every other old timer you see on the street) as an affable but out of touch older man who winds up boasting about his children’s accomplishments with every stranger he meets. Which makes him exactly like your parents and grandparents.

De Niro Is Finally Acting His Age: Even in recent films like Meet the Fockers or Righteous Kill, De Niro has retained some sort of old guy power or menace, or a gun and a badge, that gives him a harder edge even in his advanced age. Not so here. This Robert De Niro is refreshingly normal. This De Niro needs reading glasses and heart medication. And like all of our aging fathers, he’s more vulnerable than he knows, especially in one scene in which an act of kindness in an empty subway station leads to a harrowing altercation with dire consequences.

So That’s Why The Chick From “The L Word” Is In The Movie?: Katherine Moennig shows up for a few scenes, and then Bam! Someone turns out to be a closet lesbian. Coincidence?

Baby Boomers Will Love: The catchy new tune by Paul McCartney that plays over the end credits. "(I Want to) Come Home" could even snag the former Beatle an Oscar for Best Song.

A Message Just In Time For The Holidays: Frank’s children repeatedly shuffle him off in horribly insensitive ways and hide the cracks in their seemingly perfect lives to keep him blissfully ignorant of the truth, when all he wants is to get the whole family together for Christmas. It’s a terrible thing to watch happen again and again to him, until you realize how you may have done it yourself in the past. Take a lesson from the film and call your family. Go home for a visit. Fill them in on things. Tell them you love them no matter what terrible life decisions you/they have made. It’s the spirit of the holidays!

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