Review in a Hurry: Robert De Niro takes a break from persona-mocking Focker roles to play a lonely widower who wants to reconnect with his grown kids. Despite the title, it becomes clear that everybody and everything—including this episodic seriocomic tearjerker—is not as fine as they could be.
The Bigger Picture: For those wanting to wallow in syrupy holiday weepies, prime your tear ducts and put the family on speed-dial—you'll appreciate Fine's inevitable bathos. But this remake of the 1991 Italian film is too old-fashioned and overwrought to take very seriously.
Sixtysomething Frank (De Niro), who devoted his career to manufacturing telephone wires, is now retired and recently widowed. Realizing he's never made much time for his four children, he plans a family-reunion barbecue—but everyone cancels. So Frank, ignoring the doctor's advice, takes a road trip across the country to surprise each of his kids.
After missing son David in New York, Frank drops in on the others: advertising exec Amy (Kate Beckinsale), musician Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Vegas performer Rosie (Drew Barrymore). Frank eventually realizes his children aren't as happy or as successful as they pretend to be; plus, they're concealing info about David.
Though an actor of enormous range, De Niro seems miscast here—he doesn't read as elderly or unworldly enough not to know how to use chopsticks, or that a suitcase has an extendable handle, or that you shouldn't engage with young junkie punks. These are mean streets!
Rockwell and Barrymore share a few involving moments with De Niro, but just as Frank has trouble cracking the kids' facades, the film has trouble finding depth in a pat, predictable script. Fine mistakenly plays a crucial dramatic and expositional scene with kid versions of the adult children, and then undercuts the emotional payoff with oversentimentality.
Plus, the metaphor of telephone wires is completely beaten to death—it's connectedness, get it!? (Never mind everyone's talking on cell phones.) You're forced to look at wires so many times, you'll wanna string up the film from the nearest utility pole.
The 180—a Second Opinion: Nice place if you can get it! Amy's amazing multilevel home in Chicago and Rosie's (supposed) apartment overlooking the Vegas strip will give you major real estate envy.
There's so much else to see, too—have a look in our Totally New Releases gallery!