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Blu-Ray Review: ‘Everybody’s Fine’

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Our friends out at Lionsgate sent over a rather unexpected Blu-ray conversion for us. Specifically, they sent over a copy of “Everybody’s Fine,” and though the reason why this is on Blu-ray is a bit unclear and is likely owing to the proximity of Christmas, the end result is still very much worth seeing.

“Everybody’s Fine” features Frank Goode, a man who’s trying to get his family together, all around the same table. When the kids all abruptly cancel their plans to show up, Frank is naturally left a bit nonplussed.

But rather than order a pizza and settle in with ball games and old movies, Frank–a recently widowed gent–decides that if they’re not coming home, he’s going to their homes. What he finds when he gets to the kids’ places is something much different than what he expected–something much different than what they’d been telling him was going on–but at the same time, he will discover that while everybody may not be specifically fine, they’re ultimately doing all right.

It’s easy to notice the cast on this one right away–Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, and of course, Robert de Niro–and wonder what they’re all doing in such a low-yield release like this one. It may not be direct to video, but based on the IMDB’s numbers, it might as well have been. Still, there’s plenty to like here, and plenty that you may not expect.

There is indeed a lot to like with “Everybody’s Fine,” and perhaps the best part of the whole thing is the inherent irony–or at least partial irony–of the title. Everyone isn’t really fine, but perhaps they’re more fine than they think. But better yet, Frank’s trip itself is also an experience worth watching. See, there’s a lot of great scenery involved in “Everybody’s Fine” as Frank travels the country, we get a look at some really impressive sights.

At one point, we’ll be at eye level with a thunderstorm. The sights are downright impressive, and the story they’re framing is actually even better. De Niro’s been a little bit scattered in terms of quality lately–did anyone really enjoy his run with the Fockers?–but this one, man, if you never thought de Niro was good before, this one should change some minds. And I may have misinterpreted it a bit, but if that wasn’t a shout-out to E.T. with de Niro and Barrymore at the airport, I’d be surprised.

Frank’s discovery of what’s actually going on in his children’s lives–the disappointments, the setbacks, the less-than-perfect of life–is stirring and surprisingly well done, building up to a magnificent allegory involving, of all things, a backyard barbecue.

“Everybody’s Fine” is an unqualified joy to watch, maybe a bit slow in the pacing department, but still very, very much worth checking out. A great one for the holidays, and especially for those who maybe haven’t seen the family in a while, it’s one of those great movies that can alternately make you laugh and cry  throughout.

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