'The Family' is Dysfunctional
Boasting an impressive, Oscar associated cast of Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, the veteran iconic filmmakers Luc Besson’s and Martin Scorsese’s The Family is quite dysfunctional as a Mafia comedy.
Besson, who is known for The Professional, directs and co-writes the screenplay, while Scorsese, known for Goodfellas, acted as executive producer. Being a Mafia storyline, it’s easy to see references to both previous cinema masterpieces. The two most likely set out to have some fun making the film (since it is a dark comedy) more than their typical hard-boiled gangster fare, unfortunately it may not be as much fun for the audience as they would like. This somewhat entertaining film misses the mark and likely the box office cha ching.
The Family is the square peg in a round hole of a Mob flic that doesn’t have too much of a fighting chance. In the film, Robert De Niro plays Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-mobster who spills the beans on all his criminal connections and ends up along with his family in the FBI’s witness protection program, which has placed them in France thanks to their FBI agent played by Tommy Lee Jones. The once scheming Manzoni family struggles to adjust to their new lives and not call attention to themselves, but they can’t seem to leave their violent ways behind them. Rounding out the family is Giovanni’s wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), teenage daughter Belle (Dianna Agron) and son Warren (John D’Leo). Both Agron and D’Leo give stellar comedic performances that sadly outshine Jones, Pfeiffer and De Niro.
As the family endeavors to fit in, imprisoned gangsters back home are trying to locate the snitching family and “rub them out.” So there’s a chase element to this story, but it never seems to mesh with the comedy, which centers around the fish-out-of-water family especially the troubles that befall the kids. There is excessive violence in the film, which is contrived as comedy. Seems like someone used the Tarantino playbook to craft this one. Likewise, the final gun battle between the family and their old mobster acquaintances is worthy of Besson where the story at times becomes a different, more conventional mob movie.
In the end, the actors intermittently salvage the picture, but not enough to make it worth seeing. With a confusing story that builds up to nowhere, bad pacing, humorless scenarios and repetitive gags The Family is truly a dysfunctional film.
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