REVIEW: THE FAMILY
SYNOPSIS: In the dark action comedy THE FAMILY, a Mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the Witness Protection Program after snitching on the mob. Despite Agent Stansfield’s (Tommy Lee Jones) best efforts to keep them in line, Fred Blake (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children, Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo), can’t help resorting to old habits by handling their problems the “family” way. Chaos ensues as their former Mafia cronies try to track them down and scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings, in this subversively funny film by Luc Besson.
"Asking polite with a gun in your hand is better than asking polite with nothing." Not sure if I got the quote right but Fred Blake a.k.a. Giovanni Manzoni mentions this gem as an Al Capone quote; part of the creed of the Manzoni Family, temporarily the Blake Family. Having been relocated to Normandy, France, they can change their address and their names but they can’t change their ways. This movie is entertaining in so many ways. It has a lot of subplots that all contribute nicely to the movie overall and they tie in together nicely as well. One of the main themes of the film is the typical fish-out-of-water scenario which is common for characters that are in the witness protection program. In this case, the typical scenario does not disappoint and is the source for a lot of the movie’s excellent humor. The movie is pretty darn funny blended well with realism and violence. One thing this movie is not is light-hearted. I admittedly made the mistake of thinking that this might be a light-hearted mafia related comedy but there is little to no light-heartedness in this film whatsoever. I was thinking in lines of Analyze This or That or maybe even a My Blue Heaven kind of deal but no, I was way off base. From the get go, there is “in your face” violence with a strong almost shocking scene to establish the proper mood. They are not playing around and there are no holds barred. It’s fascinating! Luckily we are not bombarded with it so there is proper balance between the main storyline and the subplots, the violence and action, and the comedy which is what makes this film so enjoyable. In other words, it is well made and well presented.
Easily the most impressive aspect of the film is the cast. Can anyone be more appropriately cast for a film of this nature than Robert DeNiro . . . I mean really? And watching him interact with two other greats, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, is just a movie buff’s dream come true. Needless to say they all did their job superbly and yet they do it almost effortlessly. It was as if they were on auto pilot with their roles and it still came out great. We all know that Robert can do a role like this with his eyes closed, but of the three, Michelle was the more surprising badass. She kept up with Robert quite well. The biggest surprises were the two kids played by John D’Leo and Dianna Agron who also kept up well with the ways of The Family. Not only were their performances refreshingly well done, they complemented the bigger names. Now Belle (Dianna) is a double threat (or at least for me) cause she is also gorgeous. She almost literally shined on the big screen in practically every scene she’s in. Warren (John) is a chip off the ol’ block; calm, confident, determined, and unwavering. You really don’t want to rub any of the members of this Family the wrong way. There really were no weaknesses in this cast. Everybody contributed positively. And with Luc Besson at the helm as Director/Writer, what else would you expect? If you’re like me, this movie is going to be even better than what you expected.
By Cine Marcos
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