Everybody’s Fine: Robert De Niro’s Holiday Miscalculation

Don't be misled by the cheesy, generic poster for Kirk Jones' retelling of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 Stanno tutti bene, in which a grinning Sam Rockwell, Drew Barrymore, and Kate Beckinsale pose with Robert De Niro for their characters' family photo in front of a Christmas tree. It's a marketing department's feeble feint: The four actors appear onscreen together for only a handful of minutes late in the movie, and this is no more a Christmas movie than Yentl. De Niro takes on the role originally played by Marcello Mastroianni: the father who surprise-visits his grown children who couldn't make it home for a family reunion. But De Niro, whose deadpan is intended to signify emptiness and ache, looks mostly like a somebody doing nothing; Mastroianni's mustache worked harder than De Niro does here. And the visits with his kids are equally inconsequential. So what's the point of all this road-tripping to nowhere? That parents' best intentions often get the better of their children? Sons and daughters keep secrets from their parents? Fathers with blinders on can only pretend to know best? It's awfully hard to remake Tornatore and Alexander Payne's About Schmidt at the same time? Robert De Niro's only good at playing a dad in movies starring Ben Stiller? It's all so much raging bull.

 
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