A widower (De Niro) takes an impromptu road trip in order to reconnect with his grown children, only to discover that his family members are living far from perfect lives.
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So this middle-class white family has some troubles. Not hard troubles but troubles. No one seems to want to be honest. That's the conflict as everyone is worried about what everyone thinks about them. Some dreams not fully developed. A marriage break-up. A sexual identity crisis plus a secret child to boot. Dad's not sure what's going on but he knows everyone is lying. What's he going to do?
That's what Everyone's Fine is about and because I grew up in this environment with this type of family, I get it. And I'm sure many people will get it too. But if you really think about it, these issues really aren't that big are they? But who cares because many of us, either in Generation X or the baby boomer parents, can feel the emotions going on in this story. We worry about simple things and those simple things leads to more conflict.
There's an exchange in the end of the movie where Dad (Robert DeNiro) tells the kids that he loved their mother's cooking but he always felt that she overcooked the turkey. He never told her about it because he just didn't want to hurt her feelings. And that exchange defines Everyone's Fine. A simple lie turns into bigger lies. If Dad just told his wife in the first year of their marriage that perhaps the turkey was overcooked, she would of felt hurt about it but she would of learned something. And then the next 40 years of their marriage the turkey wouldn't of been overcooked.
Everyone's Fine taps into that. No one really lies, they just don't tell the truth. They do this because they are embarrassed about who they are and what happened to them. Generation Y is the dream generation. Most of our parents never even thought of having a dream job growing up. They were in survival mode and just wanted to support their families. We were the generation who got to think about what we really wanted out of life. And what happens is that many of us follow our dreams but we fall short because things are so competitive and quite frankly most of us weren't good enough. (or as I see on the landscape on my industry is many people attempting to "make it" but they just don't work hard enough to separate themselves from the pack).
Dad just wants his kids to be happy. But his upbringing and speeches taught them otherwise. His kids think they expected them to be perfect. But of course they're not.
There is a twist that we don't know about in the trailers and studio synopsis handouts, and that twist goes to very dark places. And it's the lack of candor that really costs this dark storyline to occur. If only people were honest with each other about the little things, then they can actually talk about the big things. And it's really that simple.
This is a really well acted film and of course it starts with Robert DeNiro, who is in every single scene. DeNiro is proving that he can basically do anything. I'm sure he has a checklist of roles he wants to play and the sweet dad role can now be checked off his list.
There are a lot of older people who live in my apartment building and many of them are lonely. When you are in the elevator with them all they want to do is talk about anything and everything. They crave personal conversation. That's what DeNiro's character reminded me of. A lonely widow who just wants to connect with his children.
Jack Nicholson played this role in "About Schmidt" a few years back. But Schmidt was light and more wacky as Everyone's Fine was darker and more serious.
I enjoyed this film and it made me understand my father a lot more. And perhaps it will do the same for others.