The people who made this will be sleeping with the fishes . . .
The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.
With such a strong cast and production team (Martin “Goodfellas” Scorsese and Luc “Leon” Besson), how could The Family be such a ridiculously unfunny and drawn out affair? De Niro applied his usual gangster schtick BUT to no avail. Especially when we’ve seen him poke fun at himself before and a whole lot better. Just watch Analyze This. Hell, even check out the mediocre sequel.
Luckily De Niro and Pfeiffer were a great pairing. BUT Dianna Agron (Stunning though she is. What?) plays such a flat character. Her silly little love subplot with her French teacher was so cliched. A shame considering the potential she showed during an altercation involving a tennis racket. While John D’Leo’s cocky schoolboy just annoyed the hell out of me.
NOT even Tommy Lee Jones with his hang dog expression could save the day. In fact, he looked just as fed up as I did watching the film.
The plot and tone were all over the place. It took a good hour before anything really made you smile or interested. It stuttered along. Bordering on either ridiculous or just plain dull. Desperate to be dark and funny and failing on both counts.
A mess. For example, Pfeiffer’s Maggie is insulted by the French shopper so she blows up the supermarket?! De Niro’s “Fred” doesn’t like having brown water ooze out of his taps so he beats up a plumber and drags a water company executive across the tarmac. If you found that funny, then give this a go. Believe me, I’m making it sound better.
To be honest, things did improve when Jones and De Niro hooked up. Their exchanges delivered the best lines;
Jones’ Stanfield: “How can I be your friend if you hate me?”
De Niro’s Fred: “You’re alive. Look at my best friends. I killed them all.”
BUT it wasn’t enough. I sat patiently drudging through all this “build up”. Waiting for a ridiculous high octane shoot em up finale. Everything was there, ripe for the taking and for five minutes (That’s right. Five minutes!), my attention was finally piqued. I was finally into it and then it just ended.
The film must have been desperate for jokes because it had to rely on in-jokes. There was one scene in which De Niro and Jones meet at a film screening. The film was Goodfellas. Cue a cheeky wink from the man himself. Some say lazy, I say needed. It got a smile out of me.
Besson should have taken lessons from the fantastic TV show Lillyhammer with Steven van Zandt. The premise had so much potential and failed so badly. That cast must have needed the money. Good moments does not a good movie make!