Managing the Mob

Robert De Niro in The Family (2013)

Having turned informant on a rival, Mafia boss Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro) and his family are put in to the witness protection program under the supervision of Agent Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) and sent to live in a quaint house in Normandy where the FBI try to keep a watchful eye on them. Trouble is that starting a new life and trying to fit in is not so easy as old habits die hard especially when someone upsets any of them. And then Giovanni who finds himself saying that he is a writer doing a commission on the Normandy Landings asked to give a talk on a movie which only ends up being "Goodfellas". But things really start to kick off when the rival mob boss who Giovanni informed on manages to track them down.

I think "The Family" is one of those movies where the idea ends up more entertaining than the final product but if the idea appeals to you then the various issues such as why ask Americans to blend in to Normandy won't be so much of an issue. The other thing about "The Family" is that you need to be a fan of De Niro and his mob movie portfolio to enjoy all the little references such as a flashback scene to a barbecue and we get that trademark face on shot of De Niro with the smile which causes lines to appear under his eyes and could have come right out of the "Goodfellas".

Dianna Agron in The Family (2013)

Now "The Family" is not all about De Niro although he is clearly the core which the movie is built around and he is certainly in his comfort zone of being a mob black comedy. But then there are the other characters with both Michelle Pfeiffer & Dianna Agron delivering psychotic characters whilst John D'Leo is amusing as a young go to guy who can get things and create business.

The trouble with "The Family" other than initially ridiculous setup of an American family trying to blend in to Normandy is that for a while it kinds of over relies on the black comedy of this psychotic family hurting people when they get annoyed with them. I wouldn't say it is repetitive but it starts to become a little too obvious and that is the trouble with what happens when it eventually tries to move on from the black comedy because of course when you have a mob family in hiding they have to be found, it is almost like some unwritten law of movie making.

What this all boils down to is that "The Family" is an entertaining movie but it is one which kind of suffers for being over so obvious yet strangely entertaining for being such. One thing is for sure, you need to be a fan of De Niro and mob movies to appreciate some of the references.

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