THE FAMILY Blu-ray Review
In The Family, Robert De Niro (Giovanni Manzoni/Fred Blake) trades on the contents of his IMDB page to make a live action mafia cartoon with a paint-by-numbers witness protection premise.
Michelle Pfeiffer stars as his character’s wife, Maggie Blake, and John D’Leo and former Glee star Dianna Agron play their kids as they hide out in Normandy, France while the mob hunts them down as retribution for Giovanni/Fred’s damning testimony against one of their leaders.
Naturally, the family has a hard time settling in and they all resort to their old ways, which means that a lot of consequence free violence and property destruction befalls the people of Normandy. All of this happens right in front of three dimwitted feds who are charged with watching the family, but they do little to stop the carnage. Most notable among them is Tommy Lee Jones, who delivers a stock Tommy Lee Jones authority figure performance while earning a trip to France.
I’ll throw out a spoiler alert here as a simple kindness, but you should have anticipated that the mob would find the “Blake” family and that it would lead to a grand shootout where none of the main characters sustain even a scratch of damage, save for the dog, who hurts his paw.
What is unexpected, though, is the way that the mob finds the family’s hiding spot. It’s a movie. I get that, and you have to suspend your disbelief a little, but there’s still a need to service logic and respect the audience’s intelligence.
That the Blake’s teenage son could recall a random and banal analogy from a conversation that he overheard between the mob boss and an underling from a barbecue a decade prior, write that analogy down in a school paper that makes its way — by way of another boy’s father and business traveler — to New York is more than a stretch. But to finish the string, see that paper get collected and thrown away by the cleanup crew on a plane and then found and re-purposed to wrap up a bottle of special coffee that is delivered to the mob boss’ jail cell where he then reads that analogy, sparking him to richly recall that random moment — that is a ridiculous thing that stretches the premise beyond the point of break.
The Family is the kind of mob-comedy that would have been a little easier to swallow 15 years ago. It really does go hand in hand with a film like Analyze This, or even Pfeiffer’s last attempt at mob-comedy, Married to the Mob, but in a post Sopranos world, this film makes The Whole Nine Yards look high brow and down to earth. Mob comedy fans would be better served by another viewing of In Bruges on Netflix or even the somewhat goofy, but also original and smart Seven Psychopaths.
Unless you are a passionate De Niro completist, there is really no reason for you to pick up this disc, especially since the special features are so slim (a making of featurette and little else on the Blu-ray).
The Family is out now on Blu-ray and DVD