Robert De Niro's latest comedy/action/crime movie The Family can be summed up in one word: Meh. The film stars De Niro as mob guy Giovanni Manzoni, who has entered witness protection with his family, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (the explosive wife), Dianna Argon (the psycho daughter), and John D'Leo (the hustling son). He is kept in check by a couple of slightly dopy law enforcement agents, and Tommy Lee Jones, who just looks like this movie is exhausting him. There is a $20 million hit out on Giovanni for being a rat so the family is forced to take refuge overseas in a small town in France where they just might be able to hide and lead a 'normal' life, if it weren't for them keeping up with their old shenanigans.
The trailer for this movie made it seem like it would have been fun and funny to watch. Truthfully though, there were few laughs and overall this was more of an action film than a comedy. I like a good action movie, as well as, a good crime drama, but this one left a lot to be desired. The plot and editing of the film were clunky and lacked in flowing smoothly through the story. We get very vague hints at what Giovanni's life was like before he became an informant and even less story about why he would turn on his own crime family in the first place. There are a handful of really oddly placed flashbacks in the film that really feel out of place and almost like they were thrown in as an afterthought. Not to mention they don’t really give us much in terms of getting to know our main characters and connecting with them.
The film tries to give each member of the family some depth and story so we can see just how deep their criminal roots are ingrained but most of it feels rushed and kinda ridiculous. We have the son "Warren" who manages to have the entire school hustled by the end of his second day there, the daughter "Belle" who had clear daddy-issues and is just longing for love, even though she can be a total ass kicker. We also have Michelle Pfeiffer as ‘Maggie’ who has the whole mother hen act down to a science, even though she too has a destructive streak. Her character however seems to actually be motivated by protecting her family and not taking crap from anyone, which I can respect. She is the only one in the movie that I can kind of understand her actions and relate. De Niro's character seems more like a little kid who doesn't like to be told what to do. He breaks the rules, does everything he is advised not to do and is basically putting his family at risk at every turn with little thought to the consequences. Why go to the trouble of signing up for witness protection if you are going to do everything in your power to stand out like a sore thumb? We don't know. I suppose the movie hints at that just being his nature and I guess we can just roll with that, but I am not really feeling it. Instead of it seeming like their natural instincts to do bad things, these guys tend to come off like jerks and crazy people. When the movie finally builds towards its climax, it is completely on ridiculous terms. The steps that made it possible were over the top unrealistic, not to mention scenes that lead to the final shootout were just silly.
Overall, the movie was just as I said before, Meh. It dragged in the middle and that was after already getting off to a somewhat slow start. I would have to rate this one a C+. It was an okay watch, but when you have Martin Scorsese as an executive producer, I just expect more than this muddled presentation. There are a lot of plot holes and the best character in this just may be the family dog. So save yourselves some cash at the box office, because this one seems like a renter.