In Review: The Family (2013)

by Daniel Goodwin on 19/11/2013

the family

It’s a shame De Niro is now more associated with low brow comedy than the high calibre crime classics that made him famous. With the exception of Limitless (2011) and Stone (2010) most of his output over the past decade has been a little below par. But when linking with the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones under the eye of Luc Besson, one cannot help but harvest hope. Unfortunately The Family is nothing more than a hollow slog through flimsy set-ups, without the drive, depth or heart to make it worthy of the talent.

De Niro plays Giovanni Manzoni, an ex-mob rat who snitched on his associates and as a result is locked in a witness relocation programme with his family. With wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and teenage mobsters in the making Warren and Bella (John D’Leo and Dianna Agron), the family are continuously changing identities. After moving to Normandy under new guises they hope to finally settle but a fresh out of jail mobster with murder in mind hunts them down with his squadron of goons.

Given the director, cast and an intriguing concept you would expect something vaguely worthwhile but The Family is undeniably lacklustre due to lazy performances, inane dialogue and dull characters. Giovanni expresses an interest in wanting to be a novelist but is more preoccupied with tracking down the source of his house’s brown water supply. Meanwhile the kids set up businesses in their high school, prying on the interests and weaknesses of the other students, which is an interesting subplot but isn’t explored enough.

Tommy Lee Jones is fun as a knackered FBI agent but the rest of the cast appear uncaring and the script is riddled with crass, unimaginative violence while subplots between plot points serve as nothing but dead end diversions. A few amusing sequences break up the monotony with some pleasant cinematography but the comedy and set-pieces are mostly derivative. Besson brings a certain edge to proceedings with his slick visual style but as a whole The Family is a minor effort that should have been developed into something much greater.

Daniel has awarded The Family (2013) two Torches of Truth


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Dan O. November 19, 2013 at 16:28

Good review Dan. The problem with this movie was that it didn’t seem like it knew what it wanted to be. At times, I felt like it wanted to be a comedy, and at others, a dark, serious tale of redemption in the mob. It all just felt so odd to me, and didn’t quite come together well.


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