Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Family

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Have you finished your X-mas shopping yet?  Yeah, I'm trying to make pointless small talk here because I got nothing else.

The Family – 3 out of 5

When I sat down to write this review, I struggled to come up with an appropriate opening paragraph but it’s early in the morning, it’s cold outside and I just gorged myself on hash browns and orange juice and I really want to head back to bed now. So, I’ll just forget about the opening paragraph and decide to explain how hard of a time I had coming up with an opening paragraph and then just abruptly jump to the next paragraph that contains the synopsis for The Family.

"Dafuq was that first paragraph about?"

The Family centers on Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro), a former Mob boss that ratted on his friends and is now in witness protection. The agent in charge of protecting him, Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), changes his name to Fred Blake and then sends the entire family to France where, hopefully, they will be out of harm’s way. There, his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), his daughter Belle (Dianna Argon) and his son Warren (John D’Leo) are forced to try and cope with the latest living arrangement the program has offered them. Unfortunately, headaches from those around them and the son accidentally alerting some angry mobsters of their location means that the family is quickly put into the line of fire and must fight to stay alive.

Use everything you learned from Glee to stay alive...

Damn, now she's singing "Staying Alive."

While this one isn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it definitely wasn’t the best either. Director Luc Besson—you know, the guy who gave us The Fifth Element and the incredibly awesome Léon: The Professional—provided a film that suffers from an uneven tone and characters that really don’t have much going on with them.

Pfeiffer always gets this face after watching Catwoman.

The cast is fantastic and, despite a very unconvincing Brooklyn accent from Pfeiffer, each player is great in the film. Bobbie De Niro, who many think has made some questionable choices in roles over the last decade, is pretty decent as Manzoni and is capable of making the character both intensely intimidating and amusing, along with being able to carry the film expertly. His scenes with Tommy Lee Jones pretty much make the film as you watch two powerhouse actors making simple scenes extremely engaging and interesting to watch.

The best thing about this movie, though, has to be De Niro's beard.
That thing is glorious!

I think we all know who the "mole" is in this family!

I'll show myself out.
The biggest problem, however, is the rest of the Manzoni family. While each character has their own troubles to deal with when trying to acclimate themselves to their new surroundings, it doesn’t really help provide them with much depth or dimension. Sure we see the frustration Maggie must deal with as she feels mocked by people who feel superior to her and we see Belle fall in love with a man in her school and deal with the ultimate rejection. Not to mention, we see Warren dealing with the fact he is kind of a bully to many of the kids around him at school as he is starting to be more like his father.  These elements don’t really feel like they are trying to feather out the personality and growth of the family members and are there more to show how hard their existences have become after losing their old lives. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it did make it hard to really care about the characters.

Now, imagine this scene was actually them making fun of the shitty movies they made...

Hey look, it's that guy from The Sopranos.  What was his
name?  Large Vagina?
Finally, the film also suffered from some very jarring shifts in tone. The movie starts like a lot of crime thrillers do but eventually seems like it is settling into a dark comedy realm as the family gets involved in violent, but slightly wacky adventures. For example, Maggie blows up a grocery store after the cashier and some haggy old ladies hate on her for being American because she wanted some peanut butter (The French hate peanut butter? What are they, Satan worshipers?), Warren lets the bullies of the school get a taste of their own medicine and we constantly see Fred having quick fantasies about making the people who are currently wronging him pay in some very violent ways. It’s actually rather amusing but this element suddenly gets lost as it gets pretty dramatic when the shit the family has been getting in with their new lives in France starts to weigh on them. This shift is okay and not that bad but then the tone shifts again to a crime thriller with a big brawl/shoot out during the climax. Had the film stayed either a crime thriller or, in my opinion, stayed a dark comedy, I think it could have greatly improved the movie but, instead, it just felt like it was lacking balance in the script department.

Pfeiffer is about to stab a bitch.  I think it has to do with living most her life in a
gansta's paradise.

Damn...I'll show myself out again.

The Family does have its moments as it has a great cast and the story is simple and interesting; however, the film suffers from flat, one-dimensional characters and a story that suffers from too many changes in tone. While these drawbacks weren’t total killers for me, it did keep me from seeing this movie as nothing but an average, one-time viewing movie.

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