The Family DVD Review

The Family takes the normal mafia movie and turns it into a dark comedy, that just plain works.

A family that plays together stays together, and this family sure knows how to play together, maybe a little too well. They are a mob unto themselves, and that is part of their problem. After, second generation mob boss Fred Manzoni (Robert DeNiro) turns informant he, his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D'Leo) are placed into witness protection and moved to a sleepy town in France.

Despite the best efforts of Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), all of the Manzoni’s operate on a hair trigger temper, and resort to the type of violence Michael Corelone would be proud of to solve their problems. Whether its dad using a baseball bat and a sledgehammer on a plumber who tries to rip him off, mom blowing up supermarkets that don’t carry peanut butter, Belle using a tennis racket to beat some sense into the face of a would-be creep or Warren working the angles at school for profit and bone-crunching revenge, its easy to see how the mob could follow the bloodied bread crumbs to the family’s doorstep.

Did I mention this was a comedy? The Family plays on this fine line of cheerful violence and sick humor, with a deliberately off-kilter effort that sort of makes it all work. The only complaint is Manzoni’s lack of motivation for snitching and murdering his associates. There are plenty of flashbacks, but this little key nugget fails to reveal himself, and leaves the audience drawing its own conclusions as the Family heads into a very bloody conclusion.

Robert De Niro truly shines in this movie, finally going back to that unstable man with psychopathic tendencies we love. The affection for his family shines through even as he’s beating the crap out of someone. He showcases a full range of emotions even as he’s dropping the f-bomb all over the place.

Although Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Argon are as perfect molls displaying equal parts empathy and violent tendencies, but Tommy Lee Jones does some pretty great deadpan, stealing scenes everytime. Sure he’s perfected this look in a number of movies, cough cough Men in Black, but the shtick works here just as well. And playing wrangler to this crazy family certainly helps with the comedic factor.

Bottom line, The Family is a twisted comedy, that pays plenty of homage to classic gangster films.

The Family hit dvd December 17th, so it’s available now.


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