'Everybody's Fine' is Robert De Niro's show, and he brings a certain charm and depth to this family drama which tends towards predictability and sentimentality.
De Niro plays Frank Goode, a retired phone-wire factory worker whose wife has recently passed away. Frank spends most of his days out in the garden doing menial tasks, but when he organises a family dinner with his four, now-grown children, he busily begins preparing for their arrival.
His two sons and two daughters are scattered across the US, from New York to Las Vegas, and it's clear they are not close to their father, and have become even less connected to him since the death of their mother. They all cancel at the last minute, a fact made even more poignant by the effort Frank has put into their visit, buying expensive steaks and a new state-of-the-art barbeque on which to cook them.
So, he takes it upon himself to travel to their homes. After disregarding his doctor's advice against travelling due to his ill-health, Frank packs his bag and starts his journey to New York to visit his artist son David (Lysy).
After camping outside David's apartment block in a run-down area of the city - apparently Frank doesn't do mobile phones - he makes his way to the next on his list - high-flying ad exec Amy (Kate Beckinsale) in Chicago. She hurries him on to Robert (Rockwell), a musician in Denver, after an awkward family dinner. From there, Frank heads to Vegas to visit dancer Rosie (Barrymore), who lives a seemingly glamorous life in the city.
The plot unfolds in a fairly unsurprising fashion, with a looming storm providing a not-so-subtle metaphor for what's in store. Certain aspects of 'Everybody's Fine' seem a little forced, such as the frequent, lingering shots of phone wires between scenes, repeatedly hitting home the point that the film is about communication.
Despite such gripes, and the occasional feeling that your emotions are being taken advantage of, De Niro's calm, measured performance gives the film much needed credibility. Barrymore, Beckinsale and Rockwell are all good in their respective roles, but don't really have too much screen time.
The theme of families losing touch is one that is sure to resonate with most people, and this will make you want to reconnect with yours.