Sunday, December 06, 2009

Everybody's Fine (*)

Everybody's Fine. 95 mins. PG-13. Written and Directed by Kirk Jones. Starring Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, and Kate Beckinsale.

The big drama that plays out in Everybody's Fine is that everybody is, in fact, not fine. Also not doing so fine? The audience members who have to sit through this atrocious, certifiably fake and corny schmaltz-fest starring a bunch of well-known and talented A-list stars, who clearly ought to know better. It's like the world's worst Lifetime movie-of-the-week, but made even worse by the fact that the filmmakers want to charge you $10 to see it. DeNiro gives a low-key, mannered performance as Frank, a recent widower who goes to visit his four kids when they all cancel on coming to see him. With each visit, Frank learns that his children have been lying to him to make things sound okay when they're really not. One's getting divorced (Beckinsale). One's not a conductor (Rockwell). One's a lesbian with a baby (Barrymore). And, oh yeah, one's a druggie on the run in Mexico who ends up dead (the one who's not on the poster). Speaking of the poster and promotional materials for the movie, don't be fooled. This is not a dysfunctional family holiday comedy in the vein of The Family Stone or something like that. It's a sappy, low-budget drama with zero emotional truth to it. DeNiro is good and better than he has been in years, but he's wasted here. There are so many contrivances in both the script and the direction, and almost nothing in the movie is pulled off successfully. Frank has the unfortunate habit of seeing his grown kids appear (and converse with him) as actual children at times. This may have seemed like a cute idea on paper, but on screen, it just comes across as lame. You know a movie's not working when, during the big dramatic flourishes at the end, you find yourself laughing at the movie (not with it). Avoid this one at all costs.

- John


At 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little zing from "Slammer Hammer"


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