Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 4th December 2009
Box Office USA: $8.9M
Distributed by: Miramax
Production compaines: Radar Pictures, Miramax Films, Hollywood Gang Productions
Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 63 Rotten: 74
IMDB: 7.2 / 10
Director: Kirk Jones
Screenwriter: Kirk Jones
Starring: Robert De Niro as Frank Goode, Drew Barrymore as Rosie, Kate Beckinsale as Amy, Sam Rockwell as Robert, Melissa Leo as Colleen, Damian Young as Jeff, James Frain as Tom, Lucian Maisel as Jack, Katherine Moennig as Jilly, Brendan Sexton III as Mugger, James Murtaugh as Dr. Ed, Austin Lysy as David, Chandler Frantz as Young David, Lily Mo Sheen as Young Amy (as Lily Sheen), Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Young Robert
Frank Goode (DeNiro) is rattling around his empty house after his wife dies.
His kids are all grown and out on their own, and none of them can be bothered to keep in touch. When they all cancel coming to a family dinner, Frank decides to pay them surprise visits, taking a road trip to see artist David (Lysy) in New York, ad exec Amy (Beckinsale) in Chicago, musician Robert (Rockwell) in Denver and dancer Rosie (Barrymore) in Las Vegas. But none of their lives are quite what he's been led to expect.
The film feels like a wispy variation on About Schmidt rather than what it really is: an irony-free remake of Guisseppe Tornatore's 1990 drama.
Writer-director Jones has stripped away all of the story's sharp edges, which leaves the strong cast struggling to generate any real electricity on screen even as cinematographer Henry Braham catches truly lovely images. Even the terrific DeNiro, who's completely believable, seems far too soft and put-upon for us to really get on his side.
One problem is that we are told things Frank doesn't know, mainly the explanation behind David's disappearance, which diffuses the film's sense of perspective. And letting us see behind the curtain, as it were, undermines the story's central theme: that something always lurks beneath the comment that "I'm fine" and that eventually acting like nothing has happened will come back to haunt you. In other words, this is a warm, nice film that has no bite at all.
It's also fairly enjoyable to watch, simply because it's so comfortable. It casually accepts (and preaches) the idea that the ungrateful younger generation is too busy and self-absorbed to care about anyone else. And while individual scenes feel honest (DeNiro has superb chemistry with Rockwell, Beckinsale and Barrymore), they're superficial, glossy depictions of the real rawness of life.
Which kind of makes us feel like the filmmakers are contradicting their own message.