“The Family”: In Review

The Family Movie Review

The Family

Release Date: Friday September 13, 2013

MPAA Rating: Rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality

Cast: Robert De Niro, Michelle  Pfeiffer, Tommy Lee Jones

Robert De Niro is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors of all time.  Now that we have gotten that out of the way, I feel like it should be ok for me to be a little harsh on his latest movie, “The Family”.  Despite an all-star cast, “The Family” is a flawed film with severe pacing problems and plot points that rely far too heavily on coincidence. 

De Niro plays a mafia boss who is relocated with his family to a small town in France under the witness protection program.  Much of the film depicts the family members behaving badly.   Any problem that they encounter, regardless of how petty it may be, is addressed with the use of extreme violence.  Not only this is not very smart of them (a mafia family in protection should know better than to constantly risk blowing their cover), it is also not nearly as funny as it is supposed to be. 

Despite clocking in at just under two hours, the movie still feels like it is half an hour longer than it needs to be.  There is just not a lot of story here, and it showed.  The story that they did have wasn’t overly unique or clever.   The last act featured plot points that were unbelievable and ridiculous to the point where they were funny in a way that I’m sure was not intentional. 

For a movie like this to work, the characters need to be well-developed and you have to care about them.  There was very little attempt at character development here, and it was not very well done.  There was one scene that stood out where the daughter was going through a particularly emotional time.  Without going into too much detail, the actions of her character seemed out-of-place and unnecessary. 

“The Family” may be worth renting for devout fans of violent comedies or mafia movies.  For the rest of us, going to “The Family” is an offer that you should refuse.  Godfather reference.  Whammy.

On a scale from 1-10 with 1 being the worst, 5 being the best, and 10 being the worst again, I give “The Family” a 2.1 with an emoticon based subranking of: that thing that De Niro does at Focker in “Meet the Parents” when he’s frowning but also sort of smiling.

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