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REVIEW: The Family

REVIEW: The Family

I have to say, when I saw the trailer , I thought “This really looks dumb”.   The movie is actually better than the trailer , but never quite lives up to its potential.  I’ve never seen anything like this film.  It’s a mash-up of a hardcore mobster movie and a family comedy.  Like the “Goodfellas” version of “The Griswalds”.

What you have   is a close-knit mob-born and raised loving family in the witness protection program with the mob in full pursuit  to rub ‘em out. The family never quite fits into any community  where they’re placed so they’re constantly on the move.   With the smell of a sequel in the air,  this film has  the  family newly moved to  a small French  village near  the site of  the  famous Normandy invasion.

Now called  Fred (Robert De Niro, who can do this in his sleep) is writing his memoir while not rubbing out anyone who irritates him. Wife Maggie (a sorely missed and the scene stealer of the film)  also can’t control her rage, acted out in firebombings.  Diana Agron plays their teenage daughter who only wants  to find the love of her life . Newcomer John D’Leo is her younger ever- scheming younger brother who can’t wait to continue his long family mob legacy. Tommy Lee Jones (again!!!) plays the agent who tries to keep the family in line so he doesn’t have to move them again.  Yes, Tommy Lee Jones is the go-to federal agent. Like DeNiro, he can sleepwalk his way through this.

Strangely, for a comedy, there are very few laugh out loud moments.   This is more satire than comedy, thanks to the hand of director Luc Besson.  One of the funniest scenes  involves the movie “Goodfellas”, starring De Niro. This movie needed more of that. Michelle Pfeiffer easily drew inspiration from the ’88 comedy “Married To The Mob”. In this one, she stays very happily married to the mob.

There’s no prettying up the mob violence.  That feels very authentic, thanks to “Goodfellas” screenwriter Nicholas Pileggi providing notes. The movie is actually based on a novel called “Malavita”.

This movie is an odd mash-up of  violence, humor, family and humanity.  I was entertained but definitely not wowed.  Not for lack of performances. It calls for sharper writing and more laughs.

2 stars

 

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