Monday, September 23, 2013

Movie Review: "The Family"

When I first started seeing previews for The Family, I thought, "Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer on the run from the mob? Yes, please." Of course, I hoped that the movie wouldn't be a total waste of their talents. While it doesn't break any new ground, the two have the opportunity to have more fun than they often have in movies, so how can that be disappointing?

Giovanni Manzoni (De Niro) and his family have been in the witness protection program since his testimony led to several high ranking members of a Mafia family to be imprisoned. Protecting them is a tough job for FBI agent Robert "Stan" Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones, at his taciturnest), because old habits die hard, and the family doesn't seem to assimilate very well. So Giovanni "becomes" Fred Blake, and his family—wife Maggie (Pfeiffer), daughter Belle (Glee's Dianna Agron), and son Warren (John D'Leo)—wind up in a remote village in France, and fitting in proves, well, difficult.

More often than not, the family seems to have a bit of a tendency toward violence as a way of solving problems (except for Warren, who leans more toward extortion, theft, and blackmail). And suddenly Giovanni has an unquenchable urge to write his memoirs, which no one will be able to read. It's not long before the mob higher-ups find out where they're hiding, and they descend upon the little town, embodying every mafia stereotype imaginable.

It's fun to watch Pfeiffer and De Niro poke fun at their previous roles in mafia movies—Pfeiffer in Married to the Mob and De Niro in, well, too many to count. While they don't have a ton of scenes together, the pair has a believable chemistry. Jones does what Jones does best, glower and grimace, and act irritated, and it's funniest when he's stuck watching Giovanni speaking at a local film club meeting about—of all things—Goodfellas. Agron and D'Leo both have their moments and more than hold their own against De Niro and Pfeiffer.

While the movie has a predictable plot, and you can see many of the jokes coming in advance (especially if you've seen the previews), it's still good fun to see De Niro not be so intense, and see Pfeiffer at ease in a movie for the first time in a long while. Definitely worth a matinee or a home viewing when it's available.

No comments:

Post a Comment