It seems like I just reviewed Buena Vista’s last “unknown” film with big stars (The Boys are Back), but now it’s time for another with the Robert DeNiro, Kate Beckinsale, Drew Barrymore, and Sam Rockwell outing with Everybody’s Fine. Although it received a rather wide release (over 2000 theaters) it was not received well by critics, who panned the film for being too empty of an outing and too “stereotypical” for a Christmas film (or so says the summary on RottenTomatoes). This is an odd thing to say about this film since very little of it takes place at Christmas and to call it without heart or substance is rather contradictory to its winning of a “Truly Moving Picture” Heartland Award.
Robert De Niro leads an acclaimed all-star cast- Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, and Sam Rockwell- In Everybody’s Fine, the heartwarming film that will move you to laughter and tears. When Frank Goode’s (De Niro) grown children cancel a family reunion, the recent widower sets off on a cross-country journey to reconnect with each of them. Expecting to share in the joys of their happy, successful lives, his surprise visits reveal a picture that is far from perfect. A family separated by physical and emotional distance finds a way to come together in a story that will touch your heart.
I was honestly quite surprised not only by the strength of the cast but also how poorly this film performed. Negative reviews aside, it’s a rather sad show of performance when you open in over two-thousand theaters and gross under $12 million worldwide. Considering this movie somehow cost $21 million to make (no doubt a lot of that was actor salaries), Everybody’s Fine really is a strong definition of a poorly and greatly underperforming film. Of course it hurt that the film debuted in December (a perfect month considering the film was infused with a bit of Christmas-time at the end, but not overwhelmingly so) and had just about zero advertising from what I remember. I honestly expected the film to be a lot worse or a more artsy piece considering it had so many stars and it came out on DVD so fast…but nope, it just really tanked in theaters.
But as we all know that’s hardly a measurement for the greatness of a film. And while this film isn’t something I would really designate as “great,” it was definitely far above average. It didn’t hurt that whenever there’s a Heartland Award slapped on the package you know you’re in for some syrupy sweet family drama at times. So while I knew the film itself probably was going to be underwhelming, it would at least know when to punch you in the eyes so you could whip out the old “there’s something in my eye” routine if you were in the company of anyone you wanted to impress with your lack of manliness.
In all honesty though the film really was quite moving. I wouldn’t say that anyone really brought their A game to this film—it was all very vague a lot of the time and the big outdoor dinner meeting that DeNiro’s character had in his head that dropped some of the big bombshells of the film all at once really caught me off guard. Either I just wasn’t paying attention at all during this film or the “hints” that were dropped were very vague. I picked up on some of them as some were about as subtle as a pink elephant in the room, but others I really had no idea where they came from. Still, I wasn’t really upset with the films inability to be clear enough with its plot, as in the end it was really just about a father reconnecting with his children after his wife and their mother passed away. In that respect it was a very touching outing, as was their eventual coming together in the end, but aside from getting a mild case of the wet-eyes, it really didn’t do much else for me as far as movies usually go.
That doesn’t mean you should just skip over it though. It’s definitely not something you’ll be dying to own, but with solid performances from all involved and a genuinely moving story this film is at least worth a Rental. As overly simple in structure as it may be, it will fill you with a case of the warm fuzzies, regardless if you can relate to the various situations that are brought up within the film.
Everybody’s Fine arrives on DVD in a standard amaray DVD case with a…Blu-ray insert? Yeah for some reason they included an insert for the Blu-ray format, despite this film not even being available on Blu-ray. Disc art is a plain grey wash and the menu system is nicely laid out and easy to navigate. The video transfer for this film is solid and does not disappoint. Colors are warm and the beach front scenery of Australia looks fantastic. Audio is a DD5.1 mix, although admittedly it’s a bit overkill for such a film. It’s mostly dialogue driven and as such you’ll get most of the audio out of the front channels. But what is there is crystal clear and without distortion or hiss. Those who read my Boys are Back in Town review will no doubt have déjà vu reading this paragraph—it is essentially the same, simply because my feelings toward that title are the same as my feelings about this one.
Extras are very limited but include:
The Making of Paul McCartney’s “(I Want To) Come Home” (9:47)
Deleted and Extended Scenes (12 minutes, 7 scenes total)
The Paul McCartney extra was rather nice and yet another reason to question the success of the film. If it boasted Robert DeNiro in the lead and featured original music from McCartney, how did it make essentially zero noise in theaters? Strange, very strange…
Overall a DVD release you can stick to Renting only.
Everybody’s Fine is now available on DVD.