Nothing is compelling in ‘Everybody’s Fine’

A widowed father learns that his grown children have been deceiving him about the amount of happiness and success they’ve achieved in their lives in “Everybody’s Fine.” But while the message is honesty in this old-fashioned holiday dramedy, the tone is false and the story is frustratingly contrived.

An able cast buoys the film, which is a Hollywood-style remake by British filmmaker Kirk Jones of a same-named Italian drama (“Stanno Tutti Bene” by Giuseppe Tornatore).

But in the absence of originality, depth or adequate emotional credibility, what should have been genuine uplift is simply watchable goo.

Part road tale, part father-psyche drama and part Father’s Day card come to life, with bits of the superior “About Schmidt” and “Tokyo Story” included, the movie presents the awakening of Frank Goode (Robert De Niro), a retired New England widower.

When younger, Frank worked extra factory shifts so he could brighten his family’s horizons. Now, he’s faced with damaged lungs — the result of coating telephone wires for decades — and the realization that he hardly knows his now-grown children.

Wanting to connect, Frank takes to the road and visits tense ad-exec daughter Amy (Kate Beckinsale) in Chicago, underachieving musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) in Denver, and deceptively cheery dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore), in Las Vegas.

All are too busy or too uneasy to spend much time with Dad and have lied to him about how they’re faring, not wanting to disappoint him.

They’re also hiding the truth about fourth sibling David. The emerging details make for the story’s dramatic buildup with a wallop clearly scheduled for the climax.

Despite the cross-country element, the movie feels like a small idea inflated onto a large canvas.

Jones, whose previous films include the quirky Irish-village comedy “Waking Ned Devine,” offers little wit or insight in regard to the subject of the contemporary American family or the postwar family provider, and can’t make his material resonate.

Instead, he delivers pat story threads and clichés. A medical emergency forces confessions. Frank talks to his dead wife at her grave site. In a fantasy sequence, Frank rebukes his offspring, who appear as young children, over how they’ve deceived him.

The mushy closure is equally embarrassing.

Such phoniness is a particular shame because when Jones simply lets his actors be their characters and click, there are some winning sparks.

De Niro, in everydad mode, plays it light, but he nicely carries us through (even if it’s hard to buy the doddering stuff). He also clicks nicely with Barrymore and Rockwell. Beckinsale is hampered by stock career-woman material.

Melissa Leo also makes an appearance — a far too brief one — as a good-natured trucker.

MOVIE REVIEW

Everybody’s Fine

two stars

Starring Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell

Written and directed by Kirk Jones

Rated PG-13

Running time 1 hour 40 minutes

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

SF police issue first citation for violating stay at home order to abortion protester

Ronald Konopaski, 86, cited outside Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to shelter in place

Pier 39 aquarium staff furloughed — but what about the fish?

Aquarium of the Bay raising funds from public to keep up operations during shutdown

Help the San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly continue our mission of providing free, local news

This week, I was faced with the heartbreaking task of reducing the hours — and therefore the pay — of the very journalists who report, write, edit and photograph that news.

San Francisco police begin issuing citations for failing to shelter in place

Officers to cite businesses, people who fail to heed warnings

Ride-hail drivers left idling by coronavirus shutdown looking for a lift

Bay Area ride-hail drivers are among those who have been hit hardest… Continue reading

Most Read