MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *1/2 (out of 5)
Robert De Niro as FRED BLAKE
Michelle Pfeiffer as MAGGIE BLAKE
Dianna Agron as BELLE BLAKE
John D’Leo as WARREN BLAKE
Tommy Lee Jones as ROBERT STANSFIELD
Studio: Relativity Media
Directed by: Luc Besson
BY KEVIN CARR
“The Family” is one of those odd films that probably worked better on paper than it did when things were finally put together. Also, I generally like most of the people involved in the film (well, except for Dianna Agron, who is really just a flash in the pan thanks to her stint on “Glee.” Still, she’s hardly the hook in this movie.
But everyone else? I like them. I like Robert De Niro (though he’s done his fair share of crap over the years). I like Michelle Pfeiffer; I’ve had a crush on her ever since I saw “Ladyhawke” in the early 80s. I also like Luc Besson to a degree. It’s not that I’m a fan of his films, but rather respect what he tries to do with cinema.
I suppose in terms of concept and inception, I can respect “The Family.” I get what Besson was trying to do with it, playing off existing mob and actor stereotypes to create a wholly new type of crime film. However, it still never quite gelled for me.
The film tells the story of a mob family that goes into the witness relocation program. Instead of keeping them in the country, they’re sent to a small town in France where they have to learn to blend in. The only problem is they really can’t blend in. Almost immediately upon showing up, they start back into their crime-fueled ways. Whether it be blowing up a convenience store or running scams out of your locker at school, the family just can’t keep their secret under wraps.
Sure, there are some funny moments, including one of the most meta Robert De Niro references of the year (with the other one being in “American Hustle” opposite Christian Bale doing his best De Niro impression). Also, out of context, a lot of the scenes can be quite funny.
Even months after seeing the film in its initial release, I can’t get past some of the sillier moments. For example, why are they trying to make this family blend into such a place? Why was there no decent coaching on how to behave in this community. Why does their handler think the best way to keep a low profile is to throw a barbecue and meet everyone in town?
Sure, “The Family” has some fun moments, but it’s not exactly a well constructed film. It has some great ambition, but it ultimately doesn’t fit together like a movie should.
Still, the movie isn’t a total loss. It’s worth checking out if you’re a die-hard fan of mob films, or if you really like Luc Besson’s more whimsical films. It might be worth a rental, at the very least.
The Blu-ray comes packaged with the DVD that also includes digital download capability with UltraViolet. Sadly, there’s very few special features on the menu, only including about 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes information in the featurette “Making the Family.” There’s also a short bit called “The Many Meanings of…” which is funny if it weren’t already detailed so well in the movie itself.