The Family
Twentieth Century Fox

family01This is another movie that slipped past me until I saw the DVD. Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones all in one movie together, a movie about a mob family in hiding? You would have to physically restrain me from watching this movie, and you would have a fight on your hands. The problem is that the movie on paper sounds so damn perfect and like such a good film that my experience teaches me to be prepared for disappointment.
Well in this instance the disappointment never came.
Written and directed by Luc Besson who you should know from La Femme Nikita, The Transporter movies and Taken, not to mention The Fifth Element, has got an impressive track record. This time out he really out did himself.

family05The set up seems simple. A lifelong mobster turns states evidence and is placed in witness protection. Giovanni Manzoni (DeNiro) is third generation mob boss and eventually heads to the FBI out of a need to keep his family safe. They are relocated to France, and there is a pretty big bounty on his head. At this point we expect family out of place and hilarity ensues, but The Family does not take the path of least resistance. That theme worked great and was really funny in My Blue Heaven, but this move reaches for more.

family03We very quickly learn that Giovanni and his family have been on the down low for a while and the movie opens with them driving into yet another new town late at night. Under their new names, they are now the Blake family, they get used to the new town, and the kids go to yet another new school. While this is happening a hitman is tracking them and we see him take out a whole family, by mistake. Maggie Blake (Pfeiffer) tries to get along. She speaks French but when shopping the locals treat her with a snobbish attitude. This stops soon enough when she blows up their store. The kids are also soon targets for being outsiders but very quickly make it known they are not to be screwed with. While all this is going on Fred Blake/Giovanni just wants the water to come out of the faucet clear and to have a nice meal. To keep busy he starts an autobiography which gives us a great narrative perspective to get his back story and works wonderfully with flashbacks. Jones plays the tired Special Agent watching the family and he has his hands full.
family06This movie could have very quickly become just another funny gangster film but it isn’t that at all. Yes, it has some funny moments, but it also has a lot of heart, some great action and a truly endearing cast of characters played by some really talented actors. It even has a great soundtrack.
I loved the movie and will be watching again at least a few more times.