Retiree Frank Goode (Robert DeNiro) never set his sights any higher than being a husband and father to his four kids, and working at his factory job coating telephone wire in PVC. Mile upon endless mile of phone wire. In Everybody's Fine, the wire is a metaphor for communication--which is somewhat lacking with his four adult children after the demise of their mother. She was always the one the kids--strung out across the country--seemed to confide in whenever they would call home.
Frank was an overbearing dad, especially with his artist son, David. "Make me proud," Frank would say. And perhaps because of their father's expectations, the other three kids--advertising exec Amy (Kate Beckinsale) ; musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) ; and dancer Rosie, (Drew Barrymore) have embellished their accomplishments. None of them are quite what they've made themselves out to be. When dad plans a big family reunion at his Connecticut home--and each of the kids cancels with some lame excuse--he sets out on a cross-country journey to visit each of them, unannounced, in an effort to re-establish some family spirit. But Rosie, Robert, and Amy are harboring a terrible secret about David that they've conspired to keep from dear old dad at all costs...for as long as they can anyway.
Everybody's Fine is a wholly ADULT film, (I don't mean sex, ya pervert) a character study of an American phenomenon: The lonely senior citizen whose life once revolved around his or her family. But families grow up...and grow apart. And I see it in the supermarket--the old man so starved for connection to someone or something that he strikes up conversations with strangers just to tell them about his "kids."
And it's heartbreaking.
Everybody's Fine is also about acceptance. Where's the line between trying to provide a guiding hand for your offspring and just accepting them for who they are? But most importantly, perhaps, it's a film about what it takes to bring a family together again in this modern era. It's a tale of surprising depth--it will sneak up on you--and may even cause you to do some soul-searching of your own.
Best seen NOW before the holiday season (like life) has passed us by.
GRADE: B +