By: Todd Gilchrist, reprinted from AFI Fest
Several months ago while Quentin Tarantino promoted Inglourious Basterds, he mentioned that he might only make a few more films before he retires because, as he said, he didn't want to make "old man" movies. If anyone is unclear as to precisely what an "old man" movie is, they need look no further than Everybody's Fine, Robert De Niro's latest film, about a father trying to reconnect with his adult children after the death of his wife.
De Niro, once an indisputable fount of actorly integrity and hard work, has in recent years played a series of characters that either demanded little of his oft-discussed commitment, or exploited his persona as an intimidating figure both on and off screen. And while the character he plays here indicates a return to the kind of character work that made him a screen icon, there's no denying that the film itself is the cinematic equivalent of career achievement award, which is why Everybody's Fine is well-done and effective but too treacly to be truly powerful.