Nanette Burstein, whose “documentary” American Teen proved a nice warm-up for the romantic-comedy hijinks here, works from a script by Geoff LaTulippe that tries hard to inject new life into a long-listless genre. The surprise is that it often succeeds, delivering unique character details (its use of pop culture is relatively keen) and a central duo that seems naturally at ease. Grade: B-.
If you had polled a random sampling of movie nerds in 1993 and asked them to name the best living male and female American actors, I'm willing to bet the winners would have been Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep. Fifteen years later, Streep is as revered and versatile as ever. But what about Bob? 'Everybody's Fine' is exactly the sort of role he doesn't need at this point in his career — one so low key and inoffensive that he doesn't seem to know what to do with it. Grade: B-.
Drew Barrymore Barrymore has embraced the business of life behind the camera, producing films since 1999 that have caught her fancy, and now she takes a turn in the director's chair with 'Whip It,' the story of a ragtag team of Texas roller derby girls who inspire a lifelong outsider (Ellen Page) to find her own place in the raucous world of wheeled mayhem. It's the kind of story that plays like a random thought drifting through Barrymore's beautiful mind. Grade: B-.