Frank Goode (Robert De Niro) has just lost his wife and it seems that the relationships he had with his kids have passed away too. After all his kids cancel their visit home at the last minute, he decides to go out and visit each of them in a series of successive stops on a long road trip. They are very much surprised at his visits, though not terribly happy to see him as they end up trying to cover up anything he would not be proud of and hurry him off to see the next sibling (sometimes not even letting him stay the night). Frank catches on and realizes something needs to change.
Entertainment Value - A
This was a nice easy-going movie, though a real tearjerker at the same time. Being a star-studded film, I didn't expect a whole lot out of this, but ClearPlay convinced me it might be worth checking out, and it was. It came out at Christmas time, but the end scene is the only thing that happens at Christmas (though the beginning might be too, it wasn't very explicit). The way the story was told was pretty cool; it wove in and out of Frank's childrens' past and present depicting them as he sees them (primarily still as kids who need direction and counsel, not necessarily as adults needing a listening ear).
Moral Value - Failure to Communicate? - 4
Great message on family relationships, particularly those between parent and child. Frank is portrayed from the start as being very interested in his family; you can see that he loves them as he prepares for their visit. As the story moves along you find out that Frank made his own reality out of what he wanted his kids to become, and that the kids didn't really see him as someone willing to listen to them. In short, everything isn't fine.
Communication is the central theme of the movie. Frank's profession of installing insulation around power lines, as well as the constant display of telephone wires and the conversations that take place over them are constantly brought up. The effects of poor communication are foreshadowed in the first part of the show when Frank doesn't listen to the Dr.'s advice to stay home but leaves on a cross-country trip anyways, which doesn't turn out to be a walk in the park.
Frank knew he didn't have the most exciting professional life and hoped and "knew" that each of his kids could be whatever they (he) wanted them to be. Because of this attitude, his kids (and wife) only told him what he was willing to listen to (never any bad news, everybody was always fine). The visit he makes to each child is very eye-opening and you learn right along side him how his link to his family is starting to fall apart. The trip turned out to be more for him than for his children, though ultimately it did bring them all together again.
We did watch this on our ClearPlay player, so there may be some strong language, but the PG-13 is also for some stronger thematic elements meant more for adults.