Caught the trailer for the forthcoming Robert De Niro flick Everybody's Fine yesterday at my neighborhood Hell Octaplex. Actually, I was there to see the Mike Judge comedy Extract, about which more later this week -- suffice it to say, I mostly thought it was droll and that SNL star Kristen Wiig contributes a particularly memorable killer comedic turn, emphasis on the killer.
As for Everybody's Fine, however, let's just say that after watching the aforementioned trailer, I was left with a question that has been irking me for quite some time. To wit -- how come the greatest actor of his generation hasn't had a part worthy of his talent since...well, just how long is it now? Top of my head, if you include Righteous Kill (which also wasted Al Pacino's time), Rocky and Bullwinkle, Meet the Parents and its hellish sequel Meet the Fockers, we're talking at least a decade or so. Still, even if Everybody's Fine turns out as cheesy and sentimental as the trailer makes it appear, I doubt it will suck as much as another appalling De Niro film I'd forgotten about until I chanced across it on cable last night.
I refer, of course, to the disastrous Men of Honor, from 2000. About which I wrote at the time:
Heroes are hard to find, so it feels churlish to carp about a film that tells the true story of sailor Carl Brashear (Cuba Gooding Jr.), who overcame systemic racism to become the U.S. Navy's first African-American deep-sea diver. On the other hand, it's a little odd that nobody involved - certainly not screenwriter Scott Marshall Smith or director George Tillman Jr. - seems to have noticed that it's also the story of a guy who literally cut off a limb to achieve a career goal. In fact, the film raises all sorts of questions it seems disinclined to answer. Like, why do doctors let Brashear amputate an only slightly injured leg? Or what keeps Brashear's sadistic, racist training officer (De Niro) and his gorgeous younger wife (Charlize Theron) together?...To be fair, the underwater sequences are both spectacular and scary; for what it's worth, this is the first film in recent memory whose hero gets run over by a submarine. But at a certain point, it's hard not to compare Gooding's character to Lemuel Pitkin, the Candide-ish protagonist of Nathaniel West's A Cool Million, whose good cheer increases exponentially as his arms and legs are hacked off. By the film's big finale, which involves Brashear walking, Frankenstein's monster-style, across a courtroom while wearing a 200-pound diving suit, the whole thing has begun to feel distinctly ridiculous..
And if you think I made any of that up, here's the trailer.
Oh well. While we wait for the pain that Everybody's Fine seems destined to inflict on us, you can order the Men of Honor DVD here. I should add, however, that if you do, I would like to meet with you, although perhaps not to shake your hand.