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The Family (2013)
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.
Some of the funniest scenes feature Jones opposite De Niro, but most memorable is "Fred" brashly following through on just wanting the water in his new home to be clear. Not brown. How that subplot runs its wildly escalating course is pure Wise Guy comedic genius. Conversely, a series of bizarrely concocted coincidences that later lead hitmen into town to finally collect the $2 million bounty put on Manzoni's head by the mob is the kind of stuff that makes paying audiences' heads tilt sideways in unison in disappointed bewilderment, until it's remembered this movie's a farce. Just go with it. Movie buffs will also get a kick out of later scenes, where the local film society invites "Fred" to share his thoughts on what turns out to be a Scorsese classic that Jones' scolding Stansfield snarkily calls Manzoni's "family home movie".
This one's a keeper. Do yourself a huge favour and check out this oftentimes riotous crime spoof showcasing an over-all cleverly crafted script, wonderfully acerbic dialogue and an incredible cast of talent that will all hopefully return soon if Besson opts to bring author Tonino Benacquista's sequel manuscript to the big screen. Good stuff. Reviewed 09/13, © Stephen Bourne.
The Family is rated 14A by the
Ontario Film Review Board, citing scenes containing some grotesque
images in a fantasy, comedic or historic context, mild sexual
references, coarse language, substance abuse, bullying, embracing
and kissing, implied sexual activity, tobacco use, and violent
acts shown in clear, unequivocal and realistic detail with blood
and tissue damage, and is rated 13+ by la Régie du Cinéma
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