The Family is a mafia black comedy with a great cast and a reliable director in Luc Besson.
Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer play Fred and Maggie Manzoni, a husband and wife mafia organization known as The Manzoni family. Unfortunately they were nabbed by the CIA and are facing a long prison sentence for their crimes. They make a deal to turn stool pigeon and avoid jail which requires them to become part of a witness protection program. CIA agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) is the officer assigned to deal with their relocation and give them new identities. If they have new names and relocate to a new area hopefully their enemies in the mob will not be able to find them. Fred has the bright idea of relocating to a different country so together with his wife and two kids Belle (Diana Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) they relocate to Normandy in France. They also change their surname and become known as the Blake family instead of the Manzoni clan.
Fred and Maggie find it easy to forget their old name but they struggle to forget their old ways. Every time a problem occurs they resort to their old mobster ways and use violence to solve the issue. This causes a lot of hassle for the locals in Normandy and also Stansfield. To make things worse the mobsters Fred and Maggie grassed up have found them and are looking for revenge. The family decide to tool up and fight the hoodlums who arrive in Normandy armed to the teeth and looking for vengeance.
The Family looks great and it is nice to see De Niro and Pfeiffer team up as a husband and wife. De Niro has appeared in a few comedies and he is happy to parody the gangster characters he is well known for. Pfeiffer doesn’t appear in many films these days so when she does turn up in a new movie it is a rare treat. She has the chops to handle comedy and looks convincing as a gangster’s moll.
The Manzoni kids are also rather amusing especially Warren who gets into trouble at school for being a hustler like his father. Tommy Lee Jones is also a welcome addition to the cast. He is a great character actor and his character is a man who is clearly tired of having to babysit the Manzoni family.
The well known film director Martin Scorsese is the executive producer for The Family which is interesting. The Manzoni family are actually quite similar to Henry Hill and his family from Goodfellas which is one of the best films from Scorsese. If Henry and his family moved to Normandy they would probably behave just like the Manzoni clan. The supporting cast also has a few actors that have played mobsters before like Vincent Pastore and Dominic Chianese who played Johnny Ola in The Godfather Part II. Luc Besson is a versatile director and his brand of black comedy is perfect for a movie like this. Some of his earlier movies had a nice streak of black comedy and gallows humour. He was a good choice for director here and he is both experienced and talented.
There is plenty of action in the trailer which is entertaining and quite funny. It really focuses on the fish out of water aspect of the story which is an effective trope. The idea of throwing a mafia character into an unfamiliar environment also worked well in the TV show called Lilyhammer. In that show a mafia capo called Frank Tagliano moves to Norway after ratting on his former mob friends. The idea is a bizarre one but a good one and the trailer for The Family is effective as it shows how fun a movie with that story could be. The film may do well when it is released as the good cast, crazy plot and black comedy form a winning combination. The intertitles in the trailer are also nice as the typeface and colours used are similar to the ones from The A-Team. They foreshadow the mayhem that will ensue when the family land in Normandy. The action in the trailer is also quite over the top just like it was in The A-Team series and film.
Comedies are common these days but it is rare to see one with such an unusual plot. The Family should provide some good laughs when it is released on September 13th. Have a look at the trailer and let us know what you think.