If trailers were ever suggesting that Everybody's Fine might be a comedy, or even only a light-hearted drama, they were truly misleading, and a simple drama denominator from its poster does the movie better justice. Though, and not the least thanks to occasional humorous undertones, evidently somewhat a weaker part of the movie, and despite really uneasy feelings that story frequently brings out (viewers are often ahead of father in whatever sad facts his not-everybody's-fine children have concealed from him), one can get almost exhilarated with quite an optimistic ending when the father, Frank Goode (Robert De Niro), on his disastrous cross-country tour to meet his children, one by one, not without a trouble of going through serious health problems, finally reconvenes with surviving ones (Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell, and Drew Barrymore) and, postmortem, reconciles with his long ago estranged, ultimately lost son, finally coming to terms with his artistic limitations, even seeking to buy one of his paintings. An early sketch he discovers speaks volumes within the running metaphor of Frank's life, with its working part spent in putting coating on telephone wires that should connect people. However, when those wires, in the times subsequent to his wife's demise, continue transferring embellished pictures of lives of his own ones, in order not to disappoint fatherly expectations, unfairly, in their young lives, so highly imposed on them, ties get easily broken where it hurts the most, between father and his children.
One inevitably wonders how such a depressing story, full of toned down, bitter emotions, has even been considered to be made into a Hollywood movie? It becomes easier to understand after discovering financial support (Miramax) and creative mind (British director Kirk Jones) behind it. Times and again, inspiration for such a movie has been drawn from an overseas' predecessor of the same, literally translated original Italian title, Stanno tutti bene, from directorial output of Giuseppe Tornatore, best known for his masterpiece (Nuovo) Cinema Paradiso.
After a longer while, this movie finally offers a role deserving of Robert De Niro's great talent, often wasted on mediocre films. His latest, truly emotional tour de force, rather different from his memorable, primarily physically demanding roles earlier in his career, made his character here, though fully resonant, yet quite independent of whoever he associates with, whether he interacts with his own, up to his high hopes underachieving one, or talks to a total stranger whom he meets while on his tour.
As coincidence would have it, it is interesting to notice: Robert De Niro was 66 years old in 2009, while shooting Everybody's Fine, the very same age as the late Marcello Mastroianni at the time when he had done Stanno tutti bene, in 1990. An old-fashioned (meant as a compliment) song, (I Want To) Come Home, from a year older Paul McCartney (67) is featured in the movie and accompanies the end credits.