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June 1, 2018

The Family (2013) --- "This Family Gives A Whole New Meaning To The Phrase 'Old Habits Die Hard.' See How They Destroy A French Town."

Plot Summary
After ratting out his Mafia cohorts, Giovanni Manzoni (Robert De Niro) and his family enter the Witness Protection Program and relocate to a French town. Despite the best efforts of their handler (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Giovanni (now called Fred Blake), his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and children (Dianna Agron, John D'Leo) can't help but resort to doing things the "family" way. However, their dependence on such old habits places everyone in danger from vengeful mobsters. (1) 

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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) is a great writer and director, his action films are amazing and thought-provoking. So for those who were expecting another thrilling action film like La Femme Nikita (1990) or even Leon: The Professional (1994) then you won’t get it here. It is nice to see that Besson can pull off making action-thriller films, action sci-fi like The Fifth Element (1997) and now with his 2013 addition The Family we get an action-comedy.

     Based on the novel, “Malavita” aka “Badfellas”, by French author Tonino Benacquista, The Family is about an Italian/American mafia family placed in the Witness Protection Program after the New York mafia put a kill order on their heads for snitching. Despite the threat on their lives, this family gives a new meaning to the phrase “old habits die hard” after their most recent relocation to Normandy, France. So if you were expecting a film like The Godfather (’72 to ‘90), Goodfellas (1990) or Casino (1995) then you will be sadly mistaken. While the film contains elements from some great Mobster films, it is a more tongue-in-cheek story that pokes fun at the mafia and contains less drama. There are some inconsistencies when it comes to the portrayal of the French people and while it is quite possible that there are French people in the real world such as this, do not use this characterization as your primary source.
     The characters are introduced fast but you get to experience their growth and development throughout the films. The family dynamic in the story is refreshing as you can never single out one for their idiocy, either you root for them or you don’t. Robert De Niro (The Godfather 2; Goodfellas) seldom disappoints as the somewhat remorseful father Giovanni/Fred (alias) going through an identity crisis. Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray) was amazing as Maggie the mother who's trying to keep her family together. Pfeiffer and De Niro’s chemistry is spot on. Dianna Agron (Glee) is perfect as the 17-year old daughter, Belle, who proves that she knows how to take care of herself despite her beautiful exterior. John D'Leo (Unbroken; The Crossing) pretty good as the teenage son with a knack for running an underground empire at school, apparently the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And finally, Tommy Lee Jones (Space Cowboys) did not disappoint with his portrayal of the family’s no-nonsense parole officer.

     Overall, The Family (2013) is an entertaining comedy Mob film that should not be taken seriously. If you were expecting another Goodfellas (1990), Casino (1995) or even the next The Godfather (’72 to ‘90), then you will be sadly mistaken. But if you looking for a good mafia film with tons of laughs and a little less drama than this film is for you. Keep in mind that while the film’s title says The Family, this is in no way a family film due to the strong language and some violent scenes throughout.

"Al Capone always said, asking politely with a gun in your hand is always better than just asking politely."
- Fred Blake [narrating]

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  8 of 10 stars
Worth Buying:  8 of 10 stars

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