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Film Review: 'The Family'

Renée Fabian |
September 15, 2013 | 2:47 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro in "The Family" (EuropaCorp).
Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro in "The Family" (EuropaCorp).
The action-comedy "The Family" is not what you would expect from a mob-themed movie. Though humorous, it falls short of being a compelling film.

Former mobster boss Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro) and his family, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo), land in Normandy, France, at their latest witness protection safe house. The Manzoni (now the Blakes) struggle to fit in, all while trying to remain hidden from a $20 million price on Giovanni’s head. This is done with the assistance of federal handler, Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones).

"The Family" succeeds most with the comedy. Most of the time, the Blake’s are just trying to fit in the only way they know how: poorly, thanks to their mobster past, though their hearts are in the right place. For example, Maggie’s first trip to the French grocery store ends with an explosion. Over peanut butter. 

However, the film is by no means perfect. There are some touching emotional stand-alone moments, like Maggie’s concern for her husband as the mob closes in on them. But these scenes often lacked build-up or context. The plot at times felt manufactured and too easy. Several moments come off as corny or too expected.

The strongest sell for "The Family" is the casts’ performances. De Niro is the perfect ex-mob boss, adding humor and humanity. Pfeiffer’s Maggie is a bored, irritated wife, a bit irresponsible with her children, yet deeply in love with her family. D’Leo is excellent as Warren, calculating, smar, and the clear heir apparent to his father’s line of work. Agron easily switches from psychopathic rage (beating the sleazy kid with a tennis racquet), to seductress (winning over her math tutor) to action hero (shooting up the mobsters). Together, they help audiences suspend belief and just go for the ride.

While maybe not worth the full $20 million price on Giovanni’s head, "The Family" manages to entertain people like me, who would otherwise never watch a mob movie. See "The Family," but you won’t miss a compelling experience if you wait for the DVD release.

Check out the trailer below.

Reach Staff Reporter Renée Fabian here; Follow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

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