It’s boring and I never thought it would be possible to say that about a De Niro mob movie.
Robert De Niro stars as Giovanni – a former Mafia tough guy who decided to testify against his Godfather and ended up in the witness protection program. He has been shipped off to a small, quiet town in France with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), daughter (Dianna Agron) and son (John D’Leo), where they are supposed to fit in and blend in with the locals, but the complete opposite is happening.
Now, the FBI agent in charge of their protection, Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), has to keep them in line and hope nothing they do attracts the attention of those Mafia hitmen trying to collect the bounty on Giovanni’s head. Of course, they will figure out where he is (in the most absurd way possible).
And, that’s one of the problems with The Family. Anyone who has been to one movie in his or her life is going to figure out the big drama in the film will come from the Mafia figuring out how to find the family, so director/writer Luc Besson and writer Michael Caleo need to include more about them and some sort of other stories. It’s as if the whole movie was conceived so we could have that one sequence where the hit men show up in town and the family has to survive, so no one cared enough to work on any other aspect of The Family.
The Family is much too light on details and development. Besson needs to give us more about Giovanni, how he ended up in this situation, what he did during his time in the Mafia and more. We see him working on his memoirs, which is the perfect vehicle to make all of this happen, but we are left with almost nada. I felt like I might have fallen asleep and missed all of this (I didn’t), but The Family is just boring enough to make you want to fall asleep.
Then, we get teased with the possibility the characters might do something, but all of those stories fall short. Every possible subplot is barely examined and last only a scene or two. What a waste of so many good actors!
Agron is given a character tortured by the existence in exile and hoping to have a normal life, but we only learn that in a throwaway line and scene towards the end, as she pointlessly chases after some older guy.
Pfeiffer’s character is trying to find some sort of peace for her soul, but her visits to the church are mostly for comic relief instead of truly examining her own misdeeds and a life of benefitting from illegal acts.
Even Caleo shows some promise as the son who could be a Mafia Don in the making, but that is all played for one payoff, just one joke.
The Family is a strange mix of comedy and drama without either one of those truly satisfying.
The Family is rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality