Sunday, January 16, 2011

Movie Sunday: Everybody's Fine

Image from here

So we're watching Mammoth last night, which is the longest, best produced movie in which nothing at all happens that I can ever remember seeing, when the sixteen year old Thai prostitute looks at Leo and says, "You're wearing two watches." Now I'm not sure if I can keep wearing two watches.

Anyway, unlike Mammoth, if you didn't get enough family-related guilt over the holidays, Everybody's Fine is a must see. Actually, you should probably see it anyway. Because it's excellent. Robert De Niro will make you want to cry within about five minutes of the movie starting, but in a good way. Not like the way Mammoth made me want to cry. In fact, even though not that much happens in this film either, we are so emotionally engaged from the beginning that it's hard to look away.

De Niro plays a recent widower in poor health whose children are supposed to come from all around the country for the weekend. They all cancel at the last minute, so he decides to surprise each of them with a visit. Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymore play his children, and they are all very good. But De Niro is genius in this thing. His vulnerability will break your heart.

This is apparently a remake of a 1990 Italian film starring Marcello Mastroianni, who is probably my favorite Italian actor with a y chromosome. The storyline of the original seems both a little cleaner and more literary than the American version, which is not really surprising. For example, each of the children is named for an opera character, who they seem to resemble in some way. I would love to see the original film. Unfortunately, it apparently has not been released on DVD, and I haven't been to Italy lately.

At it's core, Everybody's Fine is about secrets and lies, but not "there's a treasure map on the Declaration of Independence" kind of secrets. The little, real life secrets that children keep from their parents, and vice versa, and how each one puts a little distance between us.

Speaking of which, if you like the falsehood-based family comedy, we really enjoyed City Island, with Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies. Garcia plays a prison guard and aspiring actor who heads a family that seems incapable of telling each other the truth. It's a bit quirky, and a little more light-hearted than Everybody's Fine.

Wow, three for the price of one. Maybe I will skip next week altogether.


  1. I REALLY enjoyed City Island (did I recommend it?) That said, had to read your review of EF, b/c it is in the queue -- I will move it up. Thanks...

  2. I haven't seen Everybody's Fine because I thought it looked stupid, which is a bummer because Sam Rockwell is the perfect man. So I guess now I'll have to queue it up. Word.

  3. This movie breaks my heart -- so poignantly acted by DeNiro -- I have a problem believing they'd keep him at a distance because he seemed so open to them, but, I know from experience that dads tend to do so until they retire and life tempers them, and suddenly 'the kids' are on a more even footing...I did not pick up on the opera name thing...thanks for the recommendation...