Good, Bad & Ugly Review: The Family

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 29% (Critics) / 42% (Audience)
Directed By: Luc Besson
Written By: Luc Besson and Michael Caleo
Starring: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron and Tommy Lee Jones
Studio: Relativity Media

Synopsis:In the off-beat 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 the best efforts of Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Fred Manzoni (Robert DeNiro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) can’t help but revert to old habits and blow their cover by handling their problems the “family” way, enabling their former mafia cronies to track them down. Chaos ensues as old scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings in this darkly funny film by Luc Besson (Taken, Transporter). – (Source)

The Good:
This movie defied my preconceived notions. I wen into it expecting a sanitized “funny mob” movie in the vein of MY COUSIN VINNIE or ANALYZE THIS but instead it was a darkly comic film that never shied away from showing violence or depicting this entire family as a bunch of damaged sociopaths who solved almost all of their problems in ways bot self-destructive and just plain old destructive to others.
The two veterans of the main cast were appealing with DeNiro actually acting more than I have gotten used to from him recently. He has been sleepwalking through so many of these types of movies that the times when he actually flexes is considerable acting muscles it is a rare treat. Pfeiffer was pretty much channeling her Angela DeMarco character from 1988’s MARRIED TO THE MOB to pleasant effect.

The Bad:
The kids were a weak part of the movie with their stories seeming very incomplete. Maybe if a little more time was spent showing the son amassing a reputation as a mini-thug his decision to leave town would have mattered more and if the daughter’s relationship with her math tutor was shown onscreen more then maybe her decision to have sex with him then contemplate suicide after he rejected her would have not made her looks like a total lunatic.
Tommy Lee Jones barely tried to act like he was interested in this movie. He spent the entirety of his time onscreen looking like he would rather be anywhere else in the world.

The Ugly
The way the mob found out that DeNiro and his family were in Normandy was so farfetched that I got secondhand embarrassment for Luc Besson for ever letting it get on screen.

Final Verdict: I give THE FAMILY credit for not shying way from the high body count and ultra-violence and liked DeNiro and Pfeiffer in their roles but the film never fuly committed to be an action-comedy as much as it seemed to do comedy for a few scenes and action for a few scenes but never did the two meld together like the action-comedy classics from the 80s like BEVERLY HILLS COP or 48 HOURS or even more recent films like PINEAPPLE EXPRESS

Grade: C-

2 thoughts on “Good, Bad & Ugly Review: The Family

  1. As much as I admire Michelle Pfeiffer I’ve held off from watching “The Family” and after reading your Good, Bad & Ugly article I’m glad I have.
    Although it sounds like they hold up their end in this feature, it saddens me more than a little to see the decline of De Niro and Pfeiffer’s fortunes over recent years. I’ve grown up watching Michelle and even though we’ve both got older, for me she remains transcendent. Somehow her recent roles feel like someone’s put a lampshade on the brightest light in the room.


    1. Thanks for stopping by. I agree that Pfeiffer (and Deniro to a degree) have not had the best of luck with roles in this stage of their careers. On the plus side for DeNiro is that he seems to be a favorite of director David O. Russell and gets cast in prestige projects like Silver Linings Playbook and America Hustle. It would be really great if Pfeiffer were able to get into a similar relationship with a top flight director so that she can be given a chance to show that she is still a wonderful actress.


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