The cover of Everybody’s Fine initially offers a negative connotation regarding the quality of the this film. After my viewing, Everybody’s Fine is certainly not as bad as it may seems, but certainly not as good as it could be. The film offers many depressing moments, and rarely lets up.
Frank Goode (De Niro) finds himself alone after inviting all four of his children to dinner, each offering different excuses. After being stood up, Frank sets out on a nation-wide journey to visit each of his children, David, Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Rosie (Drew Barrymore). Each time he learns that his children have not reached his expectations and had been lied to by his wife who died months earlier.
Between each visit, Frank’s children speak to each other on how David was arrested in Mexico with drugs and dies in the hospital from an overdose. Frank learns of this upon awakening in the hospital surrounded by his children. Frank returns to the art gallery in New York to look for any work left over from David. The only painting available was a landscape that featured the PVC-covered power lines that Frank prided himself in manufacturing over his life. Frank’s pride while working as a factory worker adding PVC insulation to telephone and power wires makes him sick, requiring him to take medication.
Despite his enjoyment of his former employment, his exposure to PVC is slowly killing him in his old age. It is this weakness that lurks behind his proud smile, much like the embarrassment of his children that was hidden by the lies of his wife. Performances were adequate all around for this ensemble cast, yet De Niro is the only reason why this film fails to fall flat completely. His performance evokes the correct amount of sympathy of the viewer, the only saving grace of this film. While Frank insulated the country’s communications backbone, his character fails to use his own advice and fruit of his labor to reach out and communicate.
We used the term “fine” often to when being asked “how are are doing?” It’s a scripted response to those not interested into going in their present state, whether negative or positive. George Carlin once had a bit on the use of “fine” as a response. I’ve been looking for it on YouTube with no success.
Everybody’s Fine is the product of a well-written script and fails to be supported by the direction. This film certainly had potential for a more viewership, yet is marketed as more of a Christmas film. The pay off fails to completely deliver, but still offers a message, a message no different than any other film often released during the Winter season.