At the Movies: The Family

I was thinking of taking the week off since the only things of note opening were “Insidious: Chapter 2” (and I had missed the first chapter) and a movie with the very generic title “The Family.”

But then I looked into the latter film. Robert De Niro. Tommy Lee Jones. Michelle Pfeiffer. Directed by Luc Besson. Those names all have decent track records. Oh, and it’s a mob comedy. Those can be fun. So I took the bait.

“The Family” does not live up to the pedigree of the talent involved. It’s not a bad film, it’s just not as funny as it should be or as clever. There are things I like about the movie but overall it’s kind of flat.

The_Family_2013,_PosterDe Niro stars as Giovanni Manzoni, now going under the name of Fred Blake because he and his family — Maggie the mother (Pfeiffer), son Warren (John D’Leo) and daughter Belle (Dianna Agron) — are in the witness protection program. Fred is a former Mafia boss, you see, who had to go off the grid after turning in some of his cohorts.

Starting over has been hard for the family because each member has anger-management issues and the troubles of day-to-day life often result in violence. As a result the family moves around a lot, causing many headaches for their government handler, Robert Stansfield (Jones).

As the movie opens the Blakes are settling in to a gated house in Normandy, France. The kids enroll in school, Maggie checks out the neighborhood and Fred decides to use this time to write his memoirs. In no time they are falling back on bad habits. But Fred’s former co-workers and closing in and may finally catch up with the family before Stansfield can relocate them.

“The Family” is amusing but lacks any big laughs. It’s also fairly predictable. I was more invested in the kids’ story lines than the parents. One thing I liked about the film was how the Blakes came across as a close-knit family despite their unorthodox lifestyle. It would’ve been expected for one of the kids to be sullen and resentful and for there to be friction with the parents but Besson avoided those clichés.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t spend money to see “The Family” in a theater but it would be worth the time when it makes it’s way to cable.


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