Everybody’s Fine Blu-ray Review
A deranged cab driver, the Don of a notorious crime family, an alcoholic boxer, a fake priest, a firefighter, a psycho killer, an abusive husband and stepfather, a good cop, a bad cop, a retired CIA agent and the sworn enemy of Rocky and Bullwinkle is just a small sample of the ever-broadening spectrum of characters taken on by the one and only Robert De Niro. Ironically though, a performance that tops many of his iconic roles will go without a quotable catch phrase, “You Tube-able” scene or a spoof on Saturday Night Live, as he bravely confronts what is possibly the most uneasy portrayal of his career, a lonely old man with regrets.
In EVERYBODY’S FINE, De Niro plays Frank Goode, a widowed husband who confronts the reality that the only real connection he ever had with his four kids was via his wife. When all four cancel on a reunion, Frank decides to surprise each with a special visit to try and rekindle their relationships. However, what he finds is the antithesis of the perfect postcard lives they have always professed.
De Niro is simply brilliant in this film. As seasoned and celebrated a performer as he is, occasionally there is a decompression period experienced by the viewer to acclimate their expectations in films where he is playing someone other than a mob figure or less-than-stable individual. Not the case in EVERYBODY’S FINE, where De Niro is completely void of even an inkling of a vibe, intentional or otherwise, that he is anything but an older man coming to terms with his shortcomings as a father and facing his own mortality. Other than AWAKENINGS, this is a vulnerability De Niro rarely lets surface, but when he does it’s as powerful a performance as any gangster, cop or just all-around tough guy played by him or anyone else.
Now of course there is no way to pull off such an unguarded character without superior material and cast members to support it. Director/writer Kirk Jones (NANNY MCPHEE) is able to balance the delicate parent/children/sibling relationships that usually carry heavy undertones and encapsulate them in a helium filled script that keeps the story from drowning in a sea of depression. And co-stars Sam Rockwell (IRON MAN 2), Kate Beckinsale (UNDERWORLD) and Drew Barrymore (WHIP IT) all have seamless chemistry and believability with De Niro as his kids and even more so as siblings with each other. Furthermore, the extensive one-on-one scenes each had with the legendary actor; serve as the quintessential pillars for the overall story arc.
This is not the first film to exhibit De Niro’s pure talent with a raw and realistic stage of emotion, but what truly separates EVERYBODY’S FINE from the 90-plus films in his “hall of fame” resume, is instead of perfecting the extremism of a character’s nuance and behavior, which no one does better, De Niro is actually able to exemplify “normal” as an undervalued talent and Frank Goode as the “freak” in his rogues gallery of unforgettable characters.
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen: The video is crisp and clean but without being too sharp, which would not fit the tone of the film at all. There remains a slightly subdued color palette and very fine grain which retains the cinematic quality a film like this uses to support the drama.
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1: The audio is nothing spectacular but there was no need for anything other than a clean track with clear dialogue. There may have been too much use of the stereotypical “heartfelt” music playing in the background but it never drowns out the actors.
The Making of Paul McCartney’s “(I Want To) Come Home”(9:49): This is a behind the scenes look at the inception and making of an original song by Paul McCartney specifically written for this film and plays during the closing credits. Surprisingly interesting, plus he is a Beatle so just watch it.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (11:55): scenes that are actually worth the time. No they don’t really add anything to the story and they were cut for good reason as they just would’ve dragged down the pace of an already slow film. However what you do get are some very candid moments featuring Robert De Niro performing improve with some very real-life characters.