Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jun 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Liars Club

film_EverybodysFineFather uncovers hidden family secrets in bittersweet 'Everybody's Fine'

When was the last time you called your folks? You might want to make that call after seeing Everybody's Fine, a wistful drama of family dynamics and the lies we tell ourselves and our loved ones—just to get by. Although the film doesn't entirely resist the urge to tie things up in a neat package, the story is surprisingly schmaltz-free in the telling, mostly rising above easy sentimentality for a thoughtful look at parenting, expectations and disappointment.

British writer-director Kirk Jones (Waking Ned Devine) adapted the story from a 1990 Italian film starring Marcello Mastroianni. Jones cast Robert De Niro in one of his more persuasive recent roles, and plunks him down in the middle of America as Frank Goode, patriarch of a large, but far-flung clan. Eight months a widower, Frank is puttering around his house in the New England suburbs getting ready to welcome home his four adult children for a weekend reunion.

But when they start calling in, one by one, to say they can't come, Frank starts to realize how removed he's become from his kids' lives; staying in touch was something he always left to his late wife. So he decides to go visit each of his children instead, charting a cruse by train and bus. Retired from a long career applying PVC coating to telephone wire, Frank is eager to tell a stranger on the train about his odyssey to see his kids, boasting of the "million feet of wire (it took) to get 'em where they are today."

Where that is, exactly, is what the story is about. In New York, Frank waits for hours one night outside the apartment of his son, David, an artist, but David never comes home. Hopping on a bus to Chicago, he finds daughter Amy (Kate Beckinsale) at home with her husband and adolescent son. Amy is a partner in a swanky advertising firm, and mistress of a gorgeous house, but Frank senses tension at the family dinner table and in the lame excuses she makes to keep Frank from staying any longer than one night.

Heading west for Denver, Frank drops in on his musical son, Robert (Sam Rockwell), a fidgety underachiever content to play bass drum in a symphony orchestra. ("It's low-pressure and the money's good," he shrugs.) Robert doesn't exactly encourage the old man to stick around, either (he says the orchestra is leaving on tour the next day), so Frank heads for Las Vegas to see his daughter, Rosie (Drew Barrymore), a dancer. She's happy to spend some more time with him, but by now he's feeling a profound sense of disconnect, not only between the reality of his kids' lives and the stories they've been telling him, but between the adult strangers they've become and the children they were. (Who pop in and out of the present-day action as Frank fondly remembers them.)

Despite a vein of tragedy that weaves through the story, it's not really a dark film; the offspring aren't horribly estranged from their dad (the worst anyone can say about him is he "pushed them pretty hard" as kids to achieve their dreams), and their problems are mostly too commonplace to justify their conspiracy of white lies. The film is more acute in charting Frank's quiet disillusion that he's no longer an important enough factor in his kids' lives for them to confide in, which will resonate with most parents. (In an inventive moment toward the end, Frank confronts his kids in their childhood selves, who tell him their truths at last, and counsel him to "Act like nothing's wrong. That's what Mom did.")

It's too bad Jones didn't stick to Frank's viewpoint throughout. But he can't resist the motif of those telephone wires, burning up with conversations the siblings have among themselves in voice-over, telling the audience more than Frank knows about his kids instead of letting us figure out the truth, as Frank does, along the way. film_everybodys_fineNor can the director resist an idyllic coda of harmony and reconciliation tacked onto the end. Still, overall, it's a well-acted, often moving tale of the way families grow, separate, and reconfigure over time.

EVERYBODY'S FINE ★★★ (out of four) Watch movie trailer >>>

With Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymore. Written and directed by Kirk Jones.

A Miramax release. Rated PG-13. 100 minutes.

 

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

I Was a Teenage Deadhead

Memories of life on tour, plus the truth about that legendary Santa Cruz Acid Test

 

I Build a Lighted House and Therein Dwell

Wednesday, June 24, Chiron turns stationary retrograde (we turn inward) at 21.33 degrees Pisces. We usually speak of “retrograde” when referring to Mercury. But all planets retrograde. Next month in July, Venus retrogrades. What is Chiron retrograde? Chiron represents the wound within all of us. Wounds have purpose. They sensitize us; make us aware of pain and suffering. Through our wounds we develop compassion. Through compassion we become whole (holy) again. Chiron helps develop these states of consciousness. Everyone carries a wound. Everyone carries family wounds (family astrology tracks the astrological “DNA” through generations). Chiron wounds are deep within. We’re often not aware of them until Chiron retrogrades. Then the wounds (through pain, hurt, sadness, suffering) become apparent. They seem to break us open emotionally, psychologically. Painful events from the past are remembered. They are brought to the present for healing. Through experiencing, talking about and deeply feeling what is hurting us, healing takes place. We begin to understand and bring healing to others. All week, Jupiter and Venus move closer together in the sky. They meet in Leo at the full moon, Cancer solar festival, on Wednesday, July 1. The Cancer keynote is, “I build a lighted house and therein dwell.” The soul’s light has finally penetrated the “womb” of matter. The New Group of World Servers is to radiate this light. At the end of each sign are keywords to use and remember during the Chiron retrograde.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of June 26

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Kickin' Chicken

Local kitchen alchemist Justin Williams is fast becoming a cult flavor master. His late-night wizardry, which began last fall delivering mainly to starving UCSC students, is catching on with taste buds beyond campus. Kickin’ Chicken delivers its spicy-sweet fried chicken and waffles to Westside residents between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. nightly. Or you can catch him and his brother and sister, Candice and Danny Mendoza, serving it up at their “Sunday Mass” at the Santa Cruz Food Lounge at 1001 Center St. in Santa Cruz. Using sous vide, a French method of cooking chicken in a water bath at a tightly controlled temperature, they then flash fry it for an amazingly crispy coat. Candice Mendoza spoke to GT about Kickin’ Chicken’s rise.

 

What’s a creative new approach to addressing summer beach litter?

Robotic dogs, with duct tape on their paws, that walk around picking up litter wherever they go. Joaquin Heinz, Santa Cruz, Barista

 

Pelican Ranch Winery

The most popular red wines found on store shelves are also those most commonly known, such as Pinot, Zinfandel and Merlot. But when you come across a more unusual varietal, like Pelican Ranch Winery’s Cinsault ($19), it opens up a whole new world. Cinsault is a grape that can tolerate heat, so it is found in countries with warmer climes such as Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, and France. It’s rare in California but grows well in places like Lodi—Silvaspoons Vineyard in this particular case—where it’s hot and dry. Often used as a blending grape, the silky Cinsault is just fine on its own.

 

Open Wide

Soif’s soft reboot leads to expanded menu, plus the ‘thinking woman’s ketchup’