You don’t want to fuck with The Family. That’s the message I took from the trailer when I watched it for the first time earlier in the summer. I instantly became excited to see it because it has an amazing cast, and it looked like it would be full of laughs and all kinds of mayhem. It turned out to be not quite what I was expecting. The trailer tried to sell it as an action/comedy, but some parts are actually very dark and violent, even for a mafia movie. Unfortunately, most of the funniest moments are in the trailer, as seems to be the case with a lot of films these days.
Robert DeNiro plays Giovanni Manzoni, a mafia head who gets stuck in the witness protection program after ratting out a fellow mob boss. Along with his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), daughter Belle (Dianna Agron), and son Warren (John D’Leo) they must move to Normandy, France and rename themselves the Blake family in order to blend in. They make CIA agent Robert Stansfield’s (Tommy Lee Jones) job difficult, as they constantly draw attention to themselves by sticking to their no-nonsense, badass ways of living.
Martin Scorsese executive produced, but I have a feeling that his role involved little more than allowing the studio to slap his name on the poster to give it as much legit mafia cred as possible. Nothing must be said about DeNiro because, well, he’s DeNiro. Michelle Pfeiffer, who was perfectly cast with her history in films such as Married to the Mob and Scarface, is still gorgeous, even at 55, and she puts in a stellar performance that will hopefully earn her a Golden Globe nomination. Dianna Agron is quite beautiful as well. I don’t watch Glee, but I think I might start now. She proved that she can hold her own in a feature film. John D’Leo is great as well, and he appears to have the potential to have a long career ahead of him. Tommy Lee Jones is his usual emotionless self.
The way that the mafia clan eventually finds out where the family is hiding is pretty far-fetched, even for a film, and I feel they should’ve tried harder to come up with something more believable. It was also difficult to accept the fact that so many of the French people spoke such good English. I haven’t read the book that this movie is based on, Malavita, aka Badfellas for the English translation, so if the filmmakers decided to stay true to the book, then it’s not really the movie’s fault and these things can be overlooked.
This flick certainly has its moments, however. One of the highlights of the film, which was shown in the trailer, is when Maggie sets fire to a supermarket after being insulted by the workers for being American. All the characters have their own ways of handling different situations, and they are fun to watch. There is also a reference to a classic gangster film that is too good to reveal here.
It could’ve been funnier. The script could’ve been stronger. But the performances and action compensate for it. Although The Family didn’t kick quite as much ass as I had hoped it would, it’s still worth your time if you’re into mafia movies and/or you’re a fan of any of the terrific actors who star in it.