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The Family (2013) good movie
France/USA, 110 min, Rated 14A (ON) 13+ (QC)
Reviewed 09/13, © Stephen Bourne
www.ofrb.gov.on.ca | www.rcq.gouv.qc.ca

Luc Besson - Director
Luc Besson and Michael Caleo - Screenplay
Thierry Arbogast - Cinematography


"In the dark action comedy The Family, a Mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the Witness Protection Program after snitching on the mob. Despite Agent Stansfield’s (Tommy Lee Jones) best efforts to keep them in line, Fred Blake (Robert De Niro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children, Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo), can’t help resorting to old habits by handling their problems the 'family' way." - thefamilymovie.tumblr.com


Goodfellas icon Robert De Niro retreads familiar territory with a fresh familial twist in this wonderfully wry, laugh-out-loud mob farce from co-writer/director Luc Besson. In it, perpetually relocated for causing mayhem and not blending in, former Brooklyn mafia don turned FBI rat and Witness Protection Program mug Giovanni Manzoni (De Niro) arrives in the unsuspecting, sleepy rustic town of Cholong-sur-Avre, Normandy as "Fred", with his slightly vengeful wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their impetuous, criminal-minded teenaged kids Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D'Leo) as the locals' seemingly friendly new American ex-pat neighbours, the Blake family.

The Family is based on the 2004 novel, Malavita, by acclaimed French crime fiction writer Tonino Benacquista. France's version of this movie is actually called Malavita. Benacquista's follow-up book, Malavita encore, was published in 2008. According to the Internet Movie Database, Benacquista also won France's Cesar Award twice, for co-screenwriting the French films Read My Lips (2001) and The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005).

Besson and co-writer Michael Caleo deliver delightfully entertaining, macabre comedy here. Hilariously dry quips and over-the-top antics crackle throughout, with De Niro visibly having as much fun with this role as he did with his equally funny self-effacing Paul Vitti character in Analyze This (1999). If you enjoyed that flick, you'll undoubtedly have a blast with this one. Top marks also go to co-stars Pfeiffer, Agron and D'Leo for effortlessly holding their own in the peripheral stories that see Pfeiffer's Maggie trying to acclimatize, while Agron and D'Leo's characters navigate the seedier side of high school. Kudos as well to Tommy Lee Jones as this family's hardnosed yet beleaguered FBI chaperone Robert Stansfield. (read more)

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