BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
SEPTEMBER 15, 2013
Wasting no time delving into the story of this insanely dark and violent comedy, “The Family” is scattershot of ideas and cast members placed together in a haphazard, yet entertaining way. Lead by Robert De Niro; the cast feels fresh in their roles as a former mob family on the run. De Niro’s character in this feels natural, since he’s known for all his mob roles, and his humor is deadpan but spot-on. He and Michelle Pfeiffer play husband and wife, and it works phenomenal, especially in scenes where they are close, breathing an authenticity into the family unit. Dianna Agron is stunning as the high school daughter, reaching the violent moments with ease while looking sexy and confident the whole way through. John D’Leo is the sight unseen, nail on the head in this role, coming off like a mini mob boss and showing an extensive future in these roles, fitting the son of De Niro perfectly.
Director Luc Besson (“Taken,” “Lockout”) wastes no time defining the stakes of the film, killing a similar family within the first moments of the film. Yes, this touts violence immediately, but rightfully so, not allowing for the thought that this is a romp-comedy, and instead borders dark undertones with no mistaking that death will be the eventual conclusion. Besson also provides the needed character development that allows the viewer to believe these characters are capable of the consequent, action-packed ending. Slightly sadistic, this family is full of loose cannons that prove they know their way around weapons. The comedy comes mostly from De Niro’s fish-out-of-water persona, as he tries to write down his memoirs, fix the plumbing throughout the town, and deal with the FBI, lead by the veteran Tommy Lee Jones, who grounds this film in its sentiment.
With some extremely farfetched leaps throughout the film, including a country traveling school newspaper that ends up in the hands of the one person in the entire world that it shouldn’t, the film often feels unbelievable and hard to give the benefit of the doubt. Also, the characters go beyond extremes at times, with unwarranted suicidal tendencies and some awkward daydream moments that always make you wonder what reality is and what is a dream, with both mixing far too often. The dialogue is smart, with the word “fuck” set up nicely and used to cause humor throughout the whole film, rather than using cursing for the sake of using it. Rising above the poor reviews and slightly vague genre for the film, “The Family” is darkly funny and wonderfully acted, with a tinge only Besson could carry successfully.
September 13, 2013
by Tonino Benacquista
(for violence, language and brief sexuality)
Robert De Niro
Tommy Lee Jones