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Featured DVD Review: Everybody's Fine

February 20th, 2010

Everybody's Fine - Buy from Amazon

Miramax started in 1979 and over the years became one of the premiere distributors of independent and foreign films. In 1993 they were bought out by Disney, but remained mostly independent for more than a decade. However, while Miramax has released some of the most successful independent films of all time (including Clerks, Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting, etc.) their box office numbers recently started to suffer, especially after the Weinstein brothers left in 2005. Since that time, the best they've managed was No Country for Old Men. They've also produced a couple midlevel hits that played well to awards season voters like The Queen and Doubt. But for the most part, over the last five years they've had nothing but box office disappointment after box office disappointment, so much so that is came as no real surprise when Disney announced it was shutting them down. This means Everybody's Fine will be one of the last movies released under the Miramax label, barring a sale to another party. This film was a box office failure, like so many recent Miramax movies, but did the studio at least go out on a high note in terms of quality?

Robert De Niro stars as Frank, a retiree and widower who is looking forward to seeing all four of his kids as they come home for a special dinner. However, when the kids cancel one-by-one, he decides to go against his doctor's advice and travel to them. First, he goes to his son David, the artist, but he's not home. Then to his daughter Amy and his grandson Jack, but after an awkward dinner he's on his way again. Next up is Robert, who may have overstated his position in the orchestra, but he too says it’s a bad time and Frank quickly moves on. Finally he travels to Las Vegas to meet with Rosie, who is a dancer there. However, here too her life isn't quite as she lets on. Frank tries his best to learn what is really going on, but it seems that his kids have been hiding all of the bad news from him and they don't want to change that now.

Everybody's Fine is basically a road trip movie with a father trying to reconnect with his family, a family that has been hiding things from him because they are afraid to disappoint him. It features good performances, but I fear it is too low-key to really wow many people. For long stretches of the movie, it's just Robert De Niro traveling from one location to another, sometimes with us hearing his kids talk to each other on the phone, but often times very little is happening. Sometimes it tries a little too hard to be emotional (like the dream sequences) and it works best when it's at its most natural. But even at its best, the movie is not particularly memorable. It is the kind of film you can watch and enjoy, but then forget almost as soon as it is done.

Extras on the DVD include a 10-minute featurette on the making of the Paul McCartney song that plays during the end credits and seven deleted/extended scenes with a total running time of 12 minutes. That's not a lot, but given its box office run I wasn't expecting much.

The Verdict

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, or in this case, a movie by its name. Everybody's Fine is just that, fine. The acting is fine, the story is fine, but it's not particularly impressive in any regard. It's worth checking out, but for most a rental will be enough.

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