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Holiday movie offers little cheer


December 11, 2009

I can’t believe this day has come. It’s my last review, Falcons, and already I’m feeling the void (and the reimbursement) within my pocket. Indeed, my ticket stub is gone, my popcorn bag empty, and my reviewer’s hat hanging back up on its old post (don’t worry, I didn’t really have the hat). And while some of you may laugh, cry, or thank God for my departure, I must say that it’s been quite the experience being able to share all my thoughts with you. Though I’m sure we probably disagreed at some point or another, I hope you at least were intrigued enough to catch a movie or two this semester. Besides, who said the critic’s opinion really mattered anyways? Speaking of opinions though…

For this last one, I was actually hoping for something a little bigger (perhaps starring my one true love), but alas all that opened this last weekend seemed to be nothing more than a few indie never-to-be-classics and a smash and grab warehouse style. So, out of this lovely bunch, I tried to give you the best. Luckily, I think I managed.

Our final showing was Kirk Jones’ “Everybody’s Fine,” starring Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Kate Beckinsale and Sam Rockwell. Spanning the country, the story follows one father’s ultimate road trip to enlightenment and discovery after all of his children cancel their plans to see him over the holidays. Hiding secrets any father might find hard to grasp, each visit to a different child brings with it a sadness that comes with loss, but also a newfound hope for what could come with the future.

Refreshingly unassuming and normalized to the point of frightening accuracy, “Everybody’s Fine” seems to show
its best work over the dialogue that takes place through the phone lines rather than one-on-one conversations. The siblings portray a bond that seems to have become a common norm within today’s society — one that allows for only a certain amount of intimacy to take place before a retreat into isolation progresses. De Niro’s performance as the forever-frustrating father of four was surprisingly enjoyable to watch. While normally the macho man fills his plate with a hearty amount of apathetic roles, “Everybody’s Fine” plays on his emotional strengths, a side not often seen by the actor. Barrymore, Beckinsale and Rockwell all perform strongly, giving the audience a sense of closeness but also secretiveness that’s intriguing and curious to watch. Moments of intensity fill the gaps when Jones’ storyline seems to slow down, but the overall calmness and realistic subject matter of the film never makes you feel an excessive amount of feet dragging. While I wouldn’t suggest it as a quintessential comedy or date movie, I would recommend it when you’re in the mood to feel better about your own family and the drama that overruns it.

So, while it wasn’t the blockbuster I had in mind for my last review, I have to admit, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be. Perhaps a film about familial love and tension is just what I needed to finish off this semester and start the holiday season. Then again, what do critics know?

Katie Heaton is a student at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.