IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 111 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Six years ago, Mafia boss Giovanni Manzoni angered Brooklyn crime kingpin Don Luchese and causesd a hit attempt on his family. In retaliation, he snitched on Luchese, causing him to be sent to prison, and was put under the witness protection programme under the supervision of CIA Agent Stansfield. However, they keep having to move because of the tendency of Manzoni, his wife Maggie, and their children Belle and Warren to handle their problems ‘the family way’. Now they have been relocated once again to a small town in Normandy, and try to settle in….
By now I’ve have stopped expecting Luc Besson to make another Leon or even The Fifth Element and just go and see each film he makes hoping it will at the very least be reasonably enjoyable. The Family is certainly that, and a slightly better watch than the tedious The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec, but it still doesn’t really work, though to be honest how much you really enjoy it may depend if you find the Joe Pesci scenes in Goodfellas and Casino funny or not. The idea of planting a Mob family in a peaceful French village is a half-decent one, but most of the supposed laughs centre around dad and daughter going over the top and beating people to a pulp when they supposedly deserve it. Mom and son don’t seem to exhibit the same psychotic tendencies, though mom blows up a grocery store and son creates a mini-Mafia in school. It soon becomes obvious that the film doesn’t really have anywhere interesting to go, climaxing in a rather painful [in the wrong way] scene where De Niro’s character watches Goodfellas and tells his story. O and of course there’s a big gunfight at the end.
Veering from segments of a book being read to flashbacks which don’t always seem to have a point, The Family is very disjointed, and isn’t helped by an incoherent back story and not actually showing us some of the scenes that we may want to see [i.e. a confession]. Other things seem to be built up to but then don’t actually occur [you’ll want a certain French teacher to get whacked]. De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer exhibit some chemistry, but don’t have enough scenes together. This is kind of fun, and is certainly never dull, but leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The savage violence mostly occurs off-screen, but we’re expected to totally sympathize with this family because, after all, they love each other, which supposedly excuses everything. Black comedy like this requires much more skillful handling, and for Mob laughs, watch Wise Guys instead.