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Genre: Drama/Comedy
Director: Kirk Jones
Cast: Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Katherine Moennig, Melissa Leo, James Frain, Ben Schwartz
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.everybodysfinemovie.com/

Opening Day: 28 January 2010 (Exclusive release to Cathay Cineplexes)


“EVERYBODY’S FINE,” a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore’s “Stanno Tutti Bene,” follows a widower (De Niro) who embarks on an impromptu road trip to reconnect with each of his grown children only to discover that their lives are far from picture perfect. At the heart of "Everybody's Fine" is the theme of family and physical and emotional distances traveled to bring the members back together.

Movie Review:

You know how the typical Christmas family movie goes- Dad and/or Mum waits for their grown-up kids to come home for the holidays, discovers that all is not fine with the family, tries their best to smoothen things out just as they did when the kids were young, and finally everybody realises that family is still the one thing you can’t live without. Robert De Niro’s latest starrer "Everybody’s Fine" is that kind of a movie- released as it were in the U.S. during last year’s holiday season- but don’t let its predictability turn you away.

Indeed, writer/director Kirk Jones’(Waking Ned Devine) remake of the 1990 Giuseppe Tornatore film "Stanno Tutti Bene" is a surprisingly moving and affecting dramedy that paints a sad but accurate reflection of family life today. Jones’ adaptation preserves the outline of the original- a recently widowed father decides to pay a surprise visit to his four adult children when one by one, they cancel their planned visit to his upstate New York homestead.

The four children are the New York artist David (who is missing for good reason in the movie), the Chicago successful advertising exec Amy (Kate Beckinsale), the musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) supposedly a conductor of a touring orchestra and the Las Vegas performer Rosie (Drew Barrymore). Mum has always been the “good listener” they say, so all four tell little about their lives to Dad (Robert De Niro) or choose to cover up their unhappiness by saying that 'everybody’s fine'.

There’s good reason too- bit by bit, Kirk Jones paints a picture of Dad as the quietly demanding patriarch of the family whose children feel compelled to live up to his expectations. You’d soon realise that the soul-searching actually goes both ways, as Dad begins to grasp why his children were never honest with him. Thanks to Jones’ deft touch, "Everybody’s Fine" is a pleasantly layered film that reveals that the unspoken dynamics behind every family’s idiosyncrasies- including inevitably our every own.

But Jones is also interested at the changing interactions among family through the telephone conversations we have with our loved ones. Once a valuable tool for helping us keep in touch with one another, the phone has gradually become an excuse for avoiding face-to-face communication where wobbly excuses are offered for absences and no-shows. And Jones creatively injects some irony in his story by portraying Dad as a retired wire factory worker, basically the guy who wraps the PVC around the wires to protect the connections.

This tale of familial reconciliation is made all the more poignant by great acting from its ensemble cast. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Robert De Niro in a role befitting an actor of his calibre, and though this role won’t win him any awards, his earnest, subtle performance does win a great deal of empathy for his character. So too the sincere performances of Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore- each of them make their characters ever so endearing in their own frailties.

By the time "Everybody’s Fine" reaches its schmaltzy ending, you’d find yourself reaching over for that Kleenex. In fact, by the time it ends, you might just find yourself wanting to give a call to a family member whom you have not seen or heard from in a while. Though family won’t make your troubles go away, it’s nice to know that they are there to make it a little better. And yes, if you’d ask me, "Everybody’s Fine" is a very fine film indeed.

Movie Rating:

(It doesn’t stray from formula, but this bittersweet family movie packs more than enough honest emotions to move even the most cynical at heart)

Review by Gabriel Chong


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. The Family Stone (2005)

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