Thursday, September 12, 2013

Review: The Family

Release date: September 13, 2013
Running time: 110 minutes
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D'Leo, Tommy Lee Jones
Who to see it with: Someone who wants a little more comedy in their mafia movies


The Family follows an ex-mafia family after they move to a French town under witness protection. They are told to fit into the culture and not draw attention.  The Blakes initially attempts to, but struggle with both the repercussions of their old lives and the contrast between French and American culture. Each member of the have their various quirks and issues, but the main struggle is with Fred Blake (De Niro) trying to stay under the radar, but still holding onto some parts of his old life. He has a wicked temper (although he only takes it out on people that "deserve" it) and struggles with staying discreet and not letting others know who he is and what he's done. During much of the movie, he has an urge to tell people who he is, which obviously causes problems.

The best thing about this movie is the acting. De Niro and Pfeiffer are very good as Mr. and Mrs. Blake; their on screen chemistry is fun to watch as are their portrayals of ex-mafia parents. Unfortunately, there isn't much else that stands out about The Family. The trailer gave me the impression that this was a comedy and although there were some funny moments, there weren't a lot of truly laugh out loud ones. Additionally, a lot of the comedic scenes seem unnecessarily violent; the store clerk is rude to you, blow up their store; this person is being lazy, drag him from your car. Although there isn't a lot of gore, it does seem a bit excessive. It's possible that this is to show the errors of a life of crime, but I can't be sure. The film's story is serviceable, but slightly disjointed--including a romance that feels a little extreme--and the movie concludes with an unsatisfying end. Overall, The Family is a movie that doesn't do anything great. After seeing it, I couldn't really pick out anything that stood out other than the performances. It's not a bad movie, just not one that will stay with you after the credits roll.

Rent it.

Unlike David, I had no issues with the violence or the family's over-the-top behavior. It seemed fitting for a silly R-rated mafia comedy. And excessive gore is avoided by cutaways from the bloodiest acts. Unfortunately, I agree that the movie is just not very funny. The characters are fine, especially the parents and Jones' frustrated agent. De Niro and Pfeiffer make a good mob couple. The children aren't bad, but not used well. The know-it-all son's storyline feels rushed and the daughter's romance is a melodramatic failure. In the end, the father's clashes with local officials also go a bit too far over the edge. The movie is best when the family members are together in some capacity or placed in somewhat grounded situations, but it often focuses on less successful individual subplots or way over-the-top moments. Pfeiffer's character fares best. The others benefit from her presence and her scenes are more inspired and a little more restrained. The Family's story places its funny characters into too many not so funny situations.

Don't see it.

1 comment:

  1. I paid $7 for this (AMC Courthouse, before noon) and that is what this is worth. I wasn't looking for anything funny, although because of the circumstances of the overall plot, this movie could have been. I did laugh at the brother and sister swapping information at school during lunch though. Sure, the characters could have made fools out of themselves trying to blend in, which I guess happened with one in particular. My interest was held, and I thought the script worked. That being said, $7 is all this worth.