Tough. Violent. Psychotic.

These are words that we normally associate with Robert De Niro characters. We remember him as Vito Corleone, head of the Mafia family in 'The Godfather Part II,' a gun-toting depressive in 'Taxi Driver,' an animalistic boxer in 'Raging Bull' and a psychopathic rapist in 'Cape Fear.'

But in the Kirk Jones-directed family dramedy 'Everybody's Fine,' a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 movie of the same name, he plays a sad and aging widower who tries to reconnect with his children after his wife's death. Tough. Violent. Psychotic.

These are words that we normally associate with Robert De Niro characters. We remember him as Vito Corleone, head of the Mafia family in 'The Godfather Part II,' a gun-toting depressive in 'Taxi Driver,' an animalistic boxer in 'Raging Bull' and a psychopathic rapist in 'Cape Fear.'

But in the Kirk Jones-directed family dramedy 'Everybody's Fine,' a remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's 1990 movie of the same name, he plays a sad and aging widower who tries to reconnect with his children after his wife's death.

In the film, De Niro's character, Frank Goode, has spent his life working long hours to provide for his kids (played by Kate Beckinsale, Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore) and pushing them to fulfill his vision of success. When his wife dies, he finds himself alone and estranged from his family. And when each of his adult children beg off of a family reunion that he has gone out of his way to plan (even buying a luxurious new grill) he sets off on a road trip, against doctor's orders, to try and recapture a family bond.

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"The strength of 'Everybody's Fine' is watching De Niro slowly transform Frank into a father willing to listen and accept his children for who they are and not who he wanted them to be," says Glenn Whipp of the Associated Press.

We've seen De Niro tackle comedy in 'Meet the Parents' and he even played The Creature in 'Frankenstein.' There's no doubt that he has the range to play any type of character a script calls for. But as great actors age, is it their fate to take on softer, more emotional roles? Do we really want to see the man who stood in the mirror and asked "You talkin' to me?" in a tearful familial embrace?

We've seen Jack Nicholson play these types of roles in 'About Schmidt' and 'As Good As It Gets' to much success. Perhaps it's true that as men get older, they lose some of their bite. De Niro's tough guy days may be over, but that could open the door for him to play even more interesting, introspective roles -- men who may not necessarily be supremely dominant but who are, if anything, supremely human.