Movie review – The family: A family out of whack

2013-11-03 14:00

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Michelle Pfeiffer gets Married to the Mob – again and Robert De Niro’s character gets to critique Goodfellas, one of his many turns as a gangster in his career.

It’s all under the watchful eye of Luc Besson, the creator of two of the best action franchises on screen, The Transporter, which now has a TV series, and Taken, of which a third is in production. What’s not to like?

It is little wonder that I expected much more from this mob-family-in-hiding comedy.

De Niro and Pfeiffer are Fred and Maggie Blake, previously the notorious Manzoni family. He snitched on his mobster friends to avoid prison and now they are hiding out in a small village in Normandy in France.

The trouble is that you can take the family out of the business, but you can’t take the business out of the family – he’s still a leg-breaker at heart; she’s still handy with a box of matches; and the children are turning out just like them.

Unfortunately, Besson’s script isn’t funny enough – it should have been much darker or much, much lighter. I think he couldn’t decide how to play it. The result is that it has no real focus.

De Niro putting the plumber who tries to overcharge him in hospital is funny, as is Pfeiffer burning down the supermarket that mocks her request for pasta.

While the two leads are strong, the actors playing the teenage children are a little ho-hum. Dianna Agron of Glee fame is the daughter who has two scenes. In the first, she beats up a bunch of boys who are intent on raping her.

In the second, she seduces a maths tutor. She seems to have no character outside of her interaction with these men, which makes her a non-person.

The son, John D’Leo, is a hustler – selling drugs, homework and even party favours. His shenanigans lead the assassins to the Blake family and to the film’s inevitable showdown.

The trouble is that for a film with such a pedigree in front and behind the camera, The Family doesn’t live up to its promise. I would have liked something as black as The Whole Nine Yards or even as silly as 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag.

All in all, The Family will draw an audience because it’s De Niro and Pfeiffer, but it won’t be nearly as satisfying as the label promises.

» Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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