Movie Review: “The Family”
Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Diane Agron, John D’Leo, Tommy Lee Jones
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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Coming Soon: A Moviegoer’s Guide to September
Now that summer is officially over, moviegoers are bound to see a greater variety of films arriving in theaters beyond the usual barrage of action flicks and comedies. Though the September release slate isn’t as promising as it’s been in past years, there are a few potential Oscar nominees among the pack, as well as new movies from A-list stars like Robert De Niro, Hugh Jackman and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Who: Vin Diesel, Katee Sackhoff, Dave Bautista, Bokeem Woodbine and Karl Urban
What: Left for dead on a sun-scorched planet, Riddick teams up with a new breed of mercenary against an alien race of predators.
When: September 6th
Why: Though “Pitch Black” was a cool sci-fi thriller that introduced the world to Vin Diesel, director David Twothy’s 2004 follow-up, “The Chronicles of Riddick,” failed to convince audiences that the character warranted additional adventures. That hasn’t stopped Diesel from moving forward with a third installment anyway, and after the blockbuster success of the last two “Fast and Furious” movies, Universal was hardly in a position to say no. But whereas the sequel bit off more than it could chew with its grand space battles and expansive mythology, especially after the more character-based first film, “Riddick” seems to fall somewhere in the middle, and it’s that balance that could help transform the series into the franchise Diesel always envisioned.
“INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 2″
Who: Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Leigh Whannell and Lin Shaye
What: The haunted Lambert family seeks to uncover the mysterious childhood secret that has left them dangerously connected to the spirit world.
When: September 13th
Why: James Wan may be the reigning king of horror, but I’m not exactly sure what to think about the sequel to his 2010 sleeper hit. That movie ended with Patrick Wilson’s character supposedly becoming possessed by the demon that haunted him as a child, and yet “Chapter Two” gives the impression that Wilson is now leading a happy life with his family. So what happened between the two films? And will it even be addressed in the sequel? That seems to be one of the biggest questions leading into the movie, and unless Wan and writing partner Leigh Whannell have come up with a doozy of an explanation, prepare to be disappointed.
Who: Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones and Diane Agron
What: A notorious mafia family is relocated to France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.
When: September 13th
Why: It’s been awhile since Luc Besson last directed an action film (though he’s kept busy over the years as a writer/producer on the “Transporter” and “Taken” franchises), and he couldn’t have picked a better movie for his return to the genre than “The Family.” Besson has never had trouble attracting big names to his films, but that doesn’t make the involvement of Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer (both returning to their mob roots here) any less exciting. Though the veteran actors have been in films together before (2007’s “Stardust” and 2011’s “New Year’s Eve”), this marks the first time that they’ll actually share the screen, and that alone gives me hope that “The Family” will be just as much fun as it sounds.
Posted in: Coming Soon, Entertainment, Movies, Uncategorized
Tags: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, Coming Soon, Don Jon, Insidious: Chapter Two, Prisoners, Riddick, Rush, September movies, Thanks for Sharing, The Family