Robert De Niro softens up for ‘Fine’
BY SEAN O’CONNELL
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The general consensus on “Everybody’s Fine,” Kirk Jones’ heartfelt holiday film about a father traveling great distances to connect with his estranged children, was that it was pretty much that: fine. I liked it more than most, but that’s because I thoroughly enjoyed Robert De Niro, playing against type, as the lonely papa planning a holiday reunion with his offspring and not ready to take no for an answer.
There’s vulnerability in De Niro’s “Fine” performance that’s unlike anything we’ve seen from the legendary actor’s normally dominant comfort zone. De Niro’s character, Frank, is an everyman. An everydad. And he’s nicely paired with Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell as his adult children. They each wrestle with small, yet still-nagging, demons at home and in the workplace with which we can identify.
Jones’ drama is touching and kind. The actors underplay the material, emphasizing the familial bonds that once existed but have since dissolved. And Jones uses a fantastic visual trick to show the passage of time. He swaps child actors into key scenes to demonstrate how Frank still views his grown-up offspring. They’ll always be children to him. That easy gimmick got me every time.
The DVD for “Fine” fills in a few gaps using deleted and alternate scenes, but is really worth grabbing for the “Making of” piece on Paul McCartney’s original tune, “(I Want To) Come Home.”
The movie – *** out of 4
The DVD – **1/2 out of 4