I always enjoy a good mob movie, especially one that includes Robert De Niro. So when I saw the trailer for “The Family” about 6 months ago, I was extremely excited at the chance to see one of the masters back in action. My wife, on the other hand, was anxious to see what Michelle Pfeiffer had been doing since the movie “Dangerous Minds” …. (She doesn’t watch as many movies as me).
De Niro stars as mob boss Giovanni Maznoni, who has turned on his fellow mafia brethren in exchange for immunity from prosecution. The well-connected mafia knows every inch of the United States, so Maznoni and family are sent off to Normandy, France under the witness protection program and assume new identities as the Blake family, with De Niro becoming Fred Blake. The matriarch of the family is Pfeiffer, now Maggie, who just wants peanut butter and to fit in with the locals. Their daughter, Belle (Dianna Agron) is a beautiful teenager who is struggling with becoming a woman.
Their son, Warren (John D’Leo), is quickly following in his father’s footsteps as a kid that is willing to take a hit for the greater good, and is extremely conniving.
The plot of the movie centered around the mob from New York getting wind of the Blake family being in the witness protection program in France and their pursuit of them. The movie seemed to continue moving along quite well and didn’t drag. It even got better when Tommy Lee Jones entered the picture as the FBI Special Agent in-Charge of the family’s security. There were other sub-plots along the way, such as Belle’s love life and Fred’s problems with the plumbing of their house. All pieces of the story that make the family relatable to normal people, just not in the way they handle their problems.
All in all, I thought this was a decent, well-done movie. Don’t get me wrong, by no means is it an Oscar contender. I’m a fan of movies like “Goodfellas”, “Donnie Brasco”, and shows like “The Soprano’s”. I also like comedies. In my humblest of opinions, this was a successful combination of the two genres.
When we were making the decision to go out that night, we thought briefly about taking our daughter in to see this movie. Yes, it’s rated “R”, but given the fact that I’m retired from the Army, I can have some salty language myself from time to time, so we contemplated bringing her. Let’s just say we’re glad we didn’t. This was a pretty violent movie. And it was the violence that the children were inflicting on each other that was the most troublesome. In most movies that are rated “R”, you expect to see adults shooting each other, etc. In this movie, kids were beating the tar out of each other. Jeff’s parenting advice…. Leave the kids at home or send them into a different theater at Smitty’s for this one.