[img]http://www.moviehousememories.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/The-Family-Theatrical-Poster-Courtesy-of.jpg[/img]NOTE: SOME PLOT SPOILERS OF VARYING DEGREES ABOUT THIS FILM, WHICH OPENED IN U.S. THEATERS THIS PAST FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, BELOW…PLEASE DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT. THANK YOU.
SOME CALL IT ORGANIZED CRIME. OTHERS CALL IT A FAMILY.
Went to see this Martin Scorsese-produced Luc Besson-directed film as an early screening Thursday night after hearing all the hoopla about it and I gotta say…I don’t know what the point was. Is this supposed to be a quasi-tongue-in-cheek comedic look at the mob a la Analyze This? Was it supposed to be a serious drama about a crime family in the witness protection program? Neither? Both? Many hours after leaving the theater, I still don’t know. Perhaps the saving grace of the lighthearted albeit conceptually confusing The Family was the teenage chick that plays De Niro’s character’s daughter and the way in which she seduces her private math tutor – wow. This one was an eye-opener and was undoubtedly responsible for giving the film its R rating. Suffice to say, that math tutor was some lucky guy. Gorgeous in appearance and flirtatious yet sinfully classic in her dress and body language, the teen takes all the French boys she’s going to school with during her family’s tenure in a witness protection plan on varying wild rides, some that don’t end so well for some of them. There’s also the inclusion of an adorable Shepherd that remains loyal to “the family” and is raised by De Niro’s character as a pup.
Still, I don’t know what I was watching here – not-so-funny satire about American organized crime families…protection program hijinks exploitations…an attempt to copy Analyze This without the psychologist angle…I just didn’t know. The dialogue wasn’t that funny and the inclusion of De Niro as yet again a mob figure is just getting tiring already. Honestly. Further, with Scorsese producing, he couldn’t help but include a sequence that depicts De Niro’s character attending a film discussion session with his new French neighbors in which they view none other than GoodFellas. The plot sets itself up right away: With another one of De Niro’s stereotypical narration segments going over his life as a mob boss in Brooklyn, New York setting the stage, it seems this one mafia figure has ratted on key members of what appears to be his own crew, leading to his necessary relocation to an undisclosed region in the Normandy section of France, along with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and two kids plus their loyal pooch. FBI agent in charge Tommy Lee Jones oversees the family’s transition from Brooklyn to France, while two armed agents stay next door to watch their every move. From the very beginning, the family has some issues fitting in with the locals as you may imagine, leading to Pfeiffer’s character blowing up part of a supermarket after some “slurs” against Americans are made, De Niro’s character killing a plumber who arrives to work on some pipes that have been giving brown water and the kids taking care of business in their new school the only way kids of a mafia boss would know how – the son gets involved in shakedown operations while the daughter, when she’s not busy seducing older math teachers, physically bashes in the brains of one of a group of boys with a tennis racket that take her out to a secluded spot to attack her. These clichés about the Italian-American “way of doing things” wasn’t really effective nor funny here, and it all seemed forced to eat up screen time.
Meanwhile, with really nothing to do here in his new French digs, De Niro’s character sits down and begins writing his memoirs of being in the mob, something that FBI agent Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t want him doing even for his own safety. Eventually, the family is permitted to have a barbecue to meet other people from their French village, but this turns into a series of hijinks, as you can imagine, that are ultimately unsatisfying and again not humorous. Of course, De Niro’s character ends up dreaming about frying some guy’s face on the grill, while his daughter pines and whines about her “boyfriend” the math tutor not showing up at the party. Trouble comes later on when a rival faction from Brooklyn ends up finding out through the grapevine – which happens to be, in this case, a local school newspaper that prints something De Niro’s character’s son wrote; far-fetched to say the least – that De Niro’s character and his clan have relocated to Normandy, France and much like in Scarface (well, not quite), the mobsters bring an army with them as well as a plethora of military-like weapons including rockets to take out the guy who ratted people out against their code. What follows are some action setpieces in which the mobsters – decked out in Godfather-era fedoras and all – launch an all-out assault on De Niro’s character’s family attempting to get to the man himself, but he is returning from a screening of GoodFellas with Tommy Lee Jones’ character while his kids have scattered to varying places, the daughter going to look for her “one serious love” while the son attempts to board a train and make it on his own somewhere else. In between getting ready to commit suicide while on the phone with her math tutor crush for rejecting her, the daughter catches a glimpse of the black-coated mob guys on the street below and knows exactly who they are…and what they want.
Arriving to help take the arriving mob guys out, the daughter and son reteam back at the house that eventually is blown to smithereens by gunfire and rockets, while, of course, Pfeiffer’s character assists with this heroic nonsense and escaping the clutches of the men. We even see the beloved family Shepherd in what appears to be a “fake injury” sequence that leads to him stripping his teeth and attacking one of the mobsters looking to kill him over the fact that they can’t leave “any witnesses” – even canine ones. The conclusion of the film suggests the family is back on the move again to be relocated – but I have to be honest; I didn’t think this was so great.
Let me know if you’ve seen it yet…