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‘The Family’ Doesn’t Come Close to Scorsese

The Family — Rated R — 1 star out of 5

“The Family” is not really a family movie, unless you are from certain parts of Italy.

The Blake family moves around a lot. Ever since Giovanni – I mean Fred (Robert De Niro from Being Flynn) – ratted out his mafia buddies, the witness protection program has been trying to get him and his family to blend in. They land in Normandy, France, under the watchful eyes of Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones from Lincoln) who has held his leash for the past 12 years. The scenes with these two are about the only decent meatballs in this dish; that, and Michelle Pfeifer (I Could Never Be Your Woman), who plays Fred’s wife Maggie.

These fish out of water are welcomed about as much as the one delivered for Luca Brasi. The kids are cut from the same cheesecloth, although daughter Belle (Diana Argon from Glee) has a character arc that looks like a pretzel. The writing for the rest of the characters seemed as tired as De Niro looked.

This story has been overplayed for years, but I was hopeful that in the hands of Writer/Director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) something astounding would happen. Since it is listed as a comedy, I was prepared to laugh. The studio synopsis stated, “the chaos ensues,” but what “ensued” was an amusing cliché of what French people must think of Americans and our gangsters.

By the time we get to the third act, we all know what’s coming, including the characters, and the ending is not a surprise. With a Besson movie, it’s all about tone. He seemed to want to pay homage to his producer Martin Scorsese (The Departed) with a tongue-in-cheek farce.

When you can’t top Scorsese’s work, maybe you can make him laugh. Well, he didn’t make me laugh, or anyone else in the theater. Such a great cast and a great opportunity to show the real dynamics of a family like this, and Besson barely skimmed the surface.

I must be getting old when it is not enough to just look at Michelle Pfeiffer. At least they didn’t say “nobody goes against the family,” and I suggest that nobody go see “The Family,” as all I can give it is 1 star out of 5. I do this for you, and one day you can do me a solid.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.

Here is a link to his movie review site:?

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