Written by Pollo Misterioso
Much like its title, Everybody’s Fine is deceiving in how it really wants to be. Seemingly a film about everything being all right, it becomes unsure of what it has to say about the inner workings of a family. Much like a band-aid on a large gash, you may say that you have everything under control, but not everything is fine.
Marketed as an adult family film about a “picture perfect” holiday that doesn’t go as planned, the film masks what it is really about; the sad and challenging ways that a family connects and communicates. Unsure of what the audience is to expect, at least we have a talented cast to lead us along.
It has been eight months since Frank Goode’s (Robert De Niro) wife has passed away and as he prepares for a family dinner with all of his kids, they all make some excuse as to why they cannot make it. Frank then decides to go to them, surprising them at their homes. He first travels by train to visit his son David in New York and is unable to reach him so he hops on a bus to Chicago to see his daughter, Amy (Kate Beckinsale). Unable to house him, she drops him off on a train to Denver to meet up with his other son Robert (Sam Rockwell) and when he can’t stay there, he moves onto his last destination. He finally makes it to Las Vegas to see his daughter Rosie (Drew Barrymore) who finally puts him on a flight home after he is finished with his trip.
Throughout his trip Frank realizes that not one of his children has told him the truth. Amy is having trouble at home, lying about her son’s schooling and trying desperately to cover up a failed marriage. Robert finally tells his father that he does not have the job that Frank thought he had and Rosie lies about her apartment and her newborn child all because she does not want to hurt her dad. David is nowhere to be found—thought to be detained in Mexico, and any information is kept from Frank. Unable to speak to their father about their lives, Frank finally gets through to them in the hospital after he is admitted for a mild heart attack that he experiences on the plane.
Information travels fast in this film, but fails to reach those that need it. As the camera follows the wires, voiceover telephone conversations between his children take the place of the personal connection that Frank is desperately trying to regain with his kids.
De Niro gives an incredible performance, portraying a father that has grown soft over the years, carrying a weathered look that shows both compassion and pride for his family. It is really De Niro that carries the sympathy for the family in this film, allowing for tragedy and reconciliation to coexist. If you believe him, you can believe in the outcome of this family.
Everybody’s Fine fails to reconnect the children with their father, acknowledging that things are not okay and perhaps they never will be. Relying on a scene that takes place in a pseudo-dream, Frank finally confronts all of his children, but as kids, not as the adults they are today. It is nice to see Frank realize his own faults as a father, being that he literally cannot get through to them as adults. But a family needs to work both ways and the children never quite learn how to understand Frank.
Left on an overwhelmingly somber note, Everybody’s Fine tries to explain the cookie-cutter version of every family. It is a way to make everything seem all right when in reality the wounds are deeper than they seem. This film clearly shows that everybody is not fine and unfortunately their problems are too convoluted to really be resolved, but we are left hoping that one day they will be.
There are two DVD extras that are worth taking a look at on the disk. The first is an inside look into the making of the Paul McCartney’s song “(I Want to) Come Home”. This gives a very interesting look at the process of writing a song for a film. The other extras include extended and deleted scenes from the film.