Movie Review: “The Family”

Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones
Luc Besson

Luc Besson is best known for his testosterone-fueled action thrillers, so the dark comedy “The Family” represents a major departure for the French-born multi-hyphenate. It’s also his first English-language film in over a decade, not counting the numerous action franchises (like “The Transporter” and “Taken”) that he helped shepherd as a writer/producer. Though many of Besson’s past movies have had shades of humor, this is the first one he’s helmed that could be described as a comedy. Adapted from Tonino Benacquista’s novel “Malavita” (renamed “Badfellas” for the English translation), “The Family” is a surprisingly funny fish-out-of-water tale that succeeds thanks to its excellent cast.

Robert De Niro stars as Giovanni Manzoni, a respected member of the New York mob who’s been in witness protection for the better part of the last decade after snitching on his mafia family. Unable to stay out of trouble wherever he goes, Giovanni is relocated to a small, quiet town in Normandy, France with his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their two kids, Belle (Diane Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo). But before they’ve even unpacked, the incognito Blake family doesn’t waste any time in reverting to their old ways. Maggie blows up the local supermarket after being treated poorly by the staff; Belle teaches some horny teenagers a lesson in how to treat a woman; and Warren sets up several rackets at school. When Giovanni’s old mafia don is tipped off to their location by pure chance, however, a team of hitmen is sent to Normandy to exact revenge on him and his family mob-style.

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