Frank Goode (Robert de Niro, pictured) is as happy as recent widowers get: his four kids are coming to stay. Clocking De Niro’s genial crow’s feet fringing bewildered eyes, we aren’t surprised when they all cancel: one, David, doesn’t even bother to do that. So Frank decides to spring visits on each of them, which is the family-drama equivalent of picking up a hitchhiker in a horror flick. If Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Rosie (Drew Barrymore) and Robert (Sam Rockwell) are such great kids, why are they neglecting their lonely dad? And where’s David? As Frank, a former telephone-cable installer, traverses the country, it becomes clear that the Goode communication lines are down. Where did he go wrong?
Forget Hollywood remakes; this is one film I’d like to see reworked by an arthouse director and a pack of actors with smaller names and bigger reserves of subtlety (Rockwell can keep his role, though). The literalist approach of British director Kirk Jones (‘Nanny McPhee’) sucks all
interest from Frank’s travels, and rarely has a neat ending seemed less appropriate. Phone cables are being superseded, but our connections with loved ones fray and corrode forever.