A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
A man in his 60s after the death of his wife is a leaky ship without a bailer. Frank Goode has everything above-deck shipshape, but he's sinking. The garden is his pride and joy. Everything inside is mopped, scrubbed, polished, dusted, arranged and alphabetized. He buys big steaks and a new electric grill to cook them on. He selects a wine with the advice of a clueless stockboy. He reclines in his lawn chair on his manicured lawn and awaits the arrival of his four children.
At the last minute, none of them can make it. One can't even be bothered to call, but his regrets are passed along. Frank (Robert De Niro) steers a steady course to his doctor, saying he plans to do some traveling. His doctor says this is a bad idea. Frank decides not to drive, and by train, plane and automobile visits the homes of his family diaspora. He is not greeted with unalloyed joy. He was a distant disciplinarian, often critical, a chilly alternative to the wife who held them together. They don't hate him, but they have their lives to lead.
“Everybody's Fine” tells the story of his journey and his discoveries along the way. If we have seen a dozen movies in our lifetime, we can feel pretty safe in predicting that each child will reveal, and present, a different kind of problem. That Larry will discover things he didn't know about himself and them. That he will re-evaluate his life in the process. That a great deal of the American landscape will pass by on the screen. And, since all story pegs exist to hang things from, his lifetime of manufacturing telephone cables will result in many, many shots of telephone lines stringing along the way, symbolizing lines of communication. What will we do when the need for land lines disappears?
All that could redeem this thoroughly foreseeable unfolding would be colorful characters and good acting. “Everybody's Fine” comes close, but not close enough. The children are: David, an artist who seems not to be at home in his marginal New York apartment building, but whose work is on display in the gallery downstairs; Amy (Kate Beckinsale), a Chicago advertising women with a high-flying lifestyle; Robert (Sam Rockwell), a classical musician in Denver, and Rosie (Drew Barrymore), a successful professional dancer in Las Vegas with a luxurious apartment.