It’s a happy first beer (21st birthday, that is) to Scout Taylor-Compton, the weirdly-named star of Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboots. And it’s a choice, too; her birth name is Desariee Starr Compton. So… yeah.
A bittersweet, sensitively told remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s same-named 1991 Italian film, Everybody’s Fine slots in respectably as a fairly straightforwardly commercial drama of familial reconciliation, something for casual fans of About Schmidt and The Bucket List.
Robert De Niro stars as Frank Goode, a blue-collar retiree and recent widower from a small, south-central suburban New York burgh who, in the wake of a sudden rash of visit cancellations by his adult children, embarks on an impromptu road trip to individually reconnect with his four kids. Repeatedly unable to link up with his youngest son Robert, a painter, Frank then cycles through advertising executive Amy (Kate Beckinsale) and her family, orchestral percussionist Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Las Vegas dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore). As they pass him off and make excuses for being unable to visit, Frank slowly comes to realize there may be significant elements of their lives to which he is not privy.
A straightforward description of the movie’s plot is fairly pedestrian, and there exists the possibility of it slipping into something much more maudlin in the wrong hands. But the material benefits greatly from the elevating direction of adapter Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine), who imbues the film with the rootedness of smart, small details (Frank’s brown Member’s Only jacket and 35mm camera, a wine stocker’s cheery ignorance about product) and winning supporting characters. If the metaphorical subtext is sometimes writ large, one doesn’t hold it against the film too heartily.
Mostly vacuumed free of agitation, De Niro also gets a chance to work in a more purely reactive mode than he has in a long time. There’s a quiet patina of regret to the proceedings, particularly in a notable, reflective conversation with Rosie, and a more mannered dream sequence in which Frank queries his children about their dissembling as he remembers them — as shifty elementary school age kids. The themes of empty nest parental disconnection totally mark this as a boomer-specific story, but Everybody’s Fine is also about the secrets we keep in families — sometimes unwittingly at first, to safeguard delicate or overly fretful loved ones — that then snowball into bigger and bigger deals. That’s a common and emotionally resonant area of focus for many audience members — perhaps too much so.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, Everybody’s Fine comes to DVD on a dual-layer disc, presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, with English and French language Dolby digital 5.1 surround sound audio tracks and optional English, French and Spanish subtitles. In addition to a clutch of excised scenes, there’s also a brief featurette look at Paul McCartney’s original song contribution for the movie, “(I Want To) Come Home” (shockingly not Oscar-nominated), as well as a gallery of trailers upon start-up. One doesn’t rent or purchase a DVD expecting insights from De Niro, really, but something more with Jones would have been a nice inclusion. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. C+ (Movie) C (Disc)