EVERYBODY'S FINE (DVD; Miramax)
Studio Name: Miramax
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Disc/Transfer Information: Widescreen 2.40:1 – Enhanced for Widescreen TVs
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: Kirk Jones
Starring Cast: Robert DeNiro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale
No, the lovely and downright delicious (why I can’t eat her as an appetizer instead of the baked clams we usually order?) Kate Beckinsale doesn’t show her absolutely amazing naked ass in Everybody’s Fine – but she still looks as sexy as ever. The wife wanted to see this from as far back as I can remember…but with moving into a new two story house, settling in, going on business trips all over the U.S. and other annoyances, we just couldn’t get around to it. Not to mention, I just finished setting up the home theater in the new house and breaking in my new Polk RTi12 main channels; more on that in future correspondence.
What can I say about this? We were perhaps expecting a bit more; this Kirk Jones quasi-tearjerker teased us as a comedy of sorts but ended up pulling on the heartstrings more than anything with a story involving a lonely widower and his kids’ refusal to be part of his life. DeNiro dons a Members Only jacket with some polyester brown pants and embarrassing plaid button down shirts to play Frank Goode, a shadowy mimic of his role in the Meet the Parents/Meet the Fockers films, but his performance here is classic DeNiro trying to hide and keep in check his tendency to go all-out ape **** as a loudmouthed gangster of sorts. On display are his traditional facial gestures with that slightly curled-up cheek and dialogue delivery that’s almost become a caricature of himself; I have to say I’m a bit done with DeNiro as an actor. The film opens with DeNiro’s Goode character planning a reunion at his home with his kids, who are spread all over the country – Drew Barrymore, one of his daughters, is living in Vegas as a show performer, Beckinsale is living what appears to be the good life in some huge art-deco modern home, supposedly married to some balding shmuck who’s driving a BMW and Sam Rockwell plays DeNiro’s son, working as a drummer in an orchestra. Missing from the equation is DeNiro’s other son who was living in New York as an artist, but whom DeNiro can’t seem to reach.
As he shops for wine and steaks at a local supermarket, Goode (DeNiro) becomes excited with the prospect of seeing his kids together since his wife died; however, one by one they call him and leave messages indicating they won’t be able to come for the weekend for various reasons. Sensing a conspiracy amongst them, Goode sets off on a journey to visit each of them in their respective home states even with his doctor’s warnings regarding his lung condition. Instead of air travel, he indulges in a train ride first to New York to search for his son, but alas, there’s no answer even at his apartment door. He then heads to see Beckinsale by bus, where he reconnects with her and his grandson, eventually working his way to see Rockwell and then Barrymore in Vegas. Something isn’t right, however, and Goode senses this; the kids seem to be keeping a secret going amongst them, and a reason why they’ve all been blowing him off. When Goode gets to Vegas to meet with Barrymore’s character, she tells him everything in her life is great except for finding a man. With that, she shows Goode her condo overlooking the Vegas Strip, and then the two get an unexpected visit from Barrymore’s friend…who happens to have a baby and needs Barrymore to watch it for her. Again, Goode senses something isn’t right, and begins to wonder…is this baby really the friend’s? Could this maybe be…his own daughter’s baby? Why is she hiding this from him?
As he moves from each of his kids’ homes to the next, Goode begins to hear about how he wasn’t as approachable as the mother was, and that’s a reason why they haven’t kept in touch with him over the years, growing up. There are some heartfelt moments in the film, especially when DeNiro’s Goode character has a mild heart attack on a plane on his way home towards the end, and in which he has a vision of speaking to his kids to find out what’s really going on with them, and it’s these underlying elements which save Kirk Jones’ Everybody’s Fine from being a complete waste of time. There is also an essential plot twist involving the “missing” son in New York and why DeNiro’s character cannot reach him – and why the “conspiracy” he senses amongst the other kids is justified, but I won’t give that one away.
At the end of the day, Everybody’s Fine ended up coming across as kind of forgettable entertainment, a la the Larry David stinker Whatever Works and even Wild Hogs; I can provide a laundry list of other titles that belong on this roster, but that’s simply what comes to mind. You can try a rental if you’d like, and it’s certainly not the worst piece of film to come out of Hollywood, but it simply wasn’t memorable.
And I’m getting a bit tired of DeNiro, to be honest – still, if you’re a Kate Beckinsale fan like me, you get some good (if covered up in winter clothes) eye candy here.
VIDEO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC LOOK?
For a standard DVD transfer, Miramax’s Everybody’s Fine actually came across rather crisp and clean on its 2.40:1 widescreen image. The outdoor sequences upconverted beautifully on my OPPO Blu-ray player, what with rich, lush and almost electric greens and hues in the garden/forest scenes. It appeared as though some sequences bordered on “washed out” in terms of contrast; many scenes were marred with an unnatural colorless “glow” to them which rendered skintones on (mostly) Robert DeNiro pale and lifeless. There was some compression noise in dark, black-oriented scenes, but this wasn’t as bad as they usually are to my eyes because we are now sitting a few more feet back from our 50” screen as opposed to where we were in our last place. Artifacts have been appearing minimalist from this new distance.
AUDIO QUALITY ANALYSIS: HOW DID THE DISC SOUND?
Everybody’s Fine comes equipped with a standard-variety English Dolby Digital 5.1 track that is not really noteworthy in any one area; it’s the typical audio track for this kind of material, which is to say dialogue is on the low/weak side and there’s partial surround usage. There were some standout moments, though, including a “near death” experience sequence in which a storm cloud goes over DeNiro’s head during an outdoor barbecue with his kids; in this sequence, the thunder booms and the pulverizing rain crashes from all the channels in the 5.1 soundstage creating a nice, satisfying effect. Some other minor environmental fill was heard spilling into the rears and such, but for the most part, this is a center channel affair.