Everybody’s Fine One Of De Niro’s Finest Performances

Courtesy:  Lionsgate/Miramax

Courtesy: Lionsgate/Miramax

Everybody’s Fine is one of veteran actor Robert De Niro’s “finest” moments.  There are those who have already had their say of this atypical holiday family film. But odds are the people who have lambasted it have done so because it is indeed such a mirror image of reality that they don’t want to have to admit how real it is.  The story centers on widower Frank (De Niro) who recently lost his wife.  Having been married for over four decades, Frank is heartbroken after the loss of his wife.  How she died isn’t immediately revealed.  Nor is it important how she died.  It’s the psychological and emotional impact on Frank that makes this story so believable.

Frank’s emotional and psychological response to having lost his wife is so real in that as much as people may not want to admit it to themselves, his reaction is very much the same as any older person with adult children.  He reaches out for support from his now adult children.  Although in his mind, he’s just trying to get his kids together at least one more time.  As he sets off to surprise his kids, audiences learn that Frank spent most of his life helping to set up the telephone lines that criss-cross the country.  It’s these lines that eventually play a metaphorical role in that while he helped put up the lines, it’s those same lines that his own adult children use to keep a painful secret from him.  They’re keeping the secret not to be mean, but to protect their father purely out of love and respect for him.  That secret is the basis of the real story in Everybody’s Fine.

The real story of Everybody’s Fine is less about Frank’s relationship with Amy, Rosie and Robert and more about his strained relationship with his other son, David.  The relationship between David and Frank had been strained ever since David was a boy.  Writer/Director Kirk Jones hints at this through flashbacks that Frank has during the course of the movie’s roughly ninety-minute plus run time.  While Frank obviously loves his kids, it’s David that he’s really focused on.  He wants so badly to see David; so much so that as audiences hear the conversations between Frank’s other children over the telephone wires he helped put up through his career, it makes them feel that much more for Frank.  As much as his relationship with David was seemingly strained, Frank still loved David unconditionally, just as any parent would their own child.  Again, it’s that mirror image of real life that helps maintain the story’s relateability.

The story between Frank and David does have at least a somewhat happy ending.  Though perhaps bittersweet would be the better suited term to use here.  But there is closure for both figures nonetheless.  And it’s that closure that leads to an ending that wraps everything in its own deeply moving gift to audiences.  Everybody’s Fine is not the standard happy-go-lucky movie that audiences might think of when they think of holiday movies.  But its deeply emotional story about family makes it a holiday movie that stands out among the crowd even today as it has been re-issued on blu-ray.  It is available now in stores and online.  It can be ordered online direct via the Lionsgate online store at http://www.lionsgateshop.com.

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Disney’s New Fairy Tale A Welcome Addition To Disney Fairies Franchise

Courtesy: Walt Disney Home Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios announced before the release of its 2010 movie, Tangled, that the movie in question would be the last of its princess movies for the foreseeable future.  It noted that it wanted to focus more on male audiences.  This announcement sent waves through the entertainment world.  While Tangled may have been the last of Disney’s princess movies for the foreseeable future, young female audiences did still have movies aimed at them in the form of the new Tinkerbell adventures.  These movies have seen their own level of success.  Now another new movie has been released featuring Peter Pan’s fairy sidekick.  It’s called Secret of the Wings

The Secret of the Wings is another good addition to the Disney Fairies franchise.  The first thing that stands out about this new release is that it carries on the long held Disney tradition of emphasizing the importance of family.  The continued tradition is directly linked to the secret that Tink discovers when she sneaks across the border into the Winter Mountains.  She meets “The Keeper”, and another fairy who as it turns out, will change everything that she ever knew about her life.  The secret that she learns the first time she goes to meet “The Keeper” is only one secret.  As a result of this first revelation, Tinkerbell also makes an even bigger revelation at the story’s end.  That revelation is tied into another familiar element that makes this a good movie for its audiences.

As already noted, Secret of the Wings will impress viewers as it maintains the theme of family importance that the company’s older works have held.  There is another long held element that makes this movie just as good as its previous princess movies.  Whether it was princess Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, or any of the others, Disney has always made its princesses relatively headstrong.  That headstrong nature has helped lead to change in their kingdoms.  Tinkerbell is much the same way in Secret of the Wings.  It’s because of her determination to overcome the old ways that change eventually comes both to Pixie Hollow and the Winter Mountains.  Of course, that headstrong nature is also the catalyst for the conflict that would eventually lead to the change, too.

The conflict caused by Tinkerbell’s determination leads to another positive factor for the feature’s audiences.  It teaches audiences about the values of not only teamwork, but also of friendship and the importance of family.  The value of teamwork and friendship is something that both male and female audiences can appreciate.  And in terms of the value of family, young female audiences will especially appreciate this message as it’s directly tied to the secret that Tinkerbell learns in this story.

The central themes of Secret of the Wings are important elements in this feature’s success.  They go a long way toward making a story worth watching again and again.  The computer generated world created here will especially keep audiences watching.  The lush colors of Pixie Hollow and the contrast of the Winter Mountains are expertly designed.  They come together to stand out quite well against Disney’s other CG based features that have previously been released.  The people behind this world’s creation are to be commended for that, as it’s nice to see a CG based movie that doesn’t serve as a mirror image to so many others in its genre. 

So much work went into bringing Secret of the Wings to life.  Both the writing and the time spent creating the computer generated world had to have been intensive.  There is one more element that helped to make Secret of the Wings a success.  That element was the voice acting.  The voice cast for this movie reads like a who’s who of Hollywood A-listers.  Veteran actor Timothy Dalton (James Bond, The Rocketeer) joins Anjelica Huston (50/50, The Darjeeling Limited, Martian Child) who returns again as the voice of Queen Clarion.  Dalton lends his talents as the voice of Queen Clarion’s love interest, Lord Milori.  They aren’t the only well known names on board for this ride.  Lucy Liu (Charlie’s Angels, Kung Fu Panda, Kill Bill Vol. 1), Raven-Symone (The Cosby Show, That’s So Raven) and pop star Jesse McCartney are all on board this time around.  The chemistry between the cast adds another element of enjoyment for audiences of all ages.    That chemistry mixes with all of the aforementioned elements to make a feature that audiences will enjoy both the first and hundred and first time they have seen it.

Secret of the Wings is available now on DVD, DVD/Blu-ray combo pack and a four disc set including the DVD/Blu-ray combo pack, a 3-D Blu-ray, and a digital copy of the movie.  It can be ordered direct via Disney’s online store at http://www.disneystore.com

To keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.