Critics Consensus: Everybody's Fine Is Just OK
Plus, Brothers is a mixed bag, and guess the Tomatometers for Armored and Transylmania.
Robert De Niro has an intensity and presence that shines through even when he's not playing Travis Bickle/Jake La Motta types. And critics say his measured performance is easily the best thing about Everybody's Fine, a dramedy that too often veers into schmaltz. De Niro stars as a widowed middle-aged man who is attempting to mend fences with his unhappy children; he takes a cross-country trip to visit each of his brood, with mixed results. The pundits say Everybody's Fine has some touching moments, and De Niro works hard to hold the whole thing together, but too often the movie becomes overly sentimental, and the supporting players aren't given three-dimensional characters to play.
Sometimes a film contains such good acting that one is willing to overlook its faults. One example might be Jim Sheridan's Brothers, a film critics say often works despite being frequently overwrought. A remake of Susanne Bier's Certified Fresh 2005 drama, Brothers stars Tobey Maguire as Sam, a Marine who's presumed lost on a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the home front, Sam's wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) become closer than ever -- and their relationship wreaks havoc on the family when it turns out Sam is still alive. The pundits say Brothers contains strong performances from the three leads and has moments of real power, but doesn't quite cohere into a fully satisfying whole, and often sinks into melodrama and heavy-handedness. (Check out this week's Total Recall, in which we count down Portman's best-reviewed films.
Perhaps it's a sign that Transylmania is a bloodless horror comedy, since the people behind it wouldn't let critics see it beforehand. Transylmania tells the tale of a group of college exchange students who find themselves in a vampire-filled university. Guess that Tomatometer... again!
Also opening this week in limited release:
- Up in the Air, starring George Clooney and Vera Farmiga in a dramedy about a frequent flyer, is Certified Fresh at 85 percent (check out director Jason Reitman's Five Favorite Films here).
- Big River Man, a documentary about a wacky Slovenian's attempt to swim the Amazon River, is at 91 percent.
- Before Tomorrow, a period drama about a boy and his grandmother surviving the harsh climes of the Arctic, is at 83 percent.
- Gigante, the story of a security guard who becomes obsessed with a woman he sees at the supermarket where he works, is at 80 percent.
- Loot, a doc about two World War II vets in search of stolen treasure, is at 60 percent.
- Until the Light Takes Us, a doc about Norway's dark and occasionally violent black metal scene, is at 40 percent.
- Serious Moonlight, starring Meg Ryan and Timothy Hutton in a comedy about a woman who duct tapes her straying spouse to a toilet, is at 29 percent.
- Strip, a comedy about the employees of a second rate electronics store, is at zero percent.