Friday, September 13, 2013

'The Family,' Starring Deniro and Pfeiffer Is A Hit


By Darlene Donloe 

Robert Deniro is known for playing bad-ass mafia types on screen.

In his latest film, The Family, Deniro, once again takes on the role of a Mafioso, except this time he really has some anger management issues and puts a bit of a comic twist it.

Michelle Pfeiffer has also played her share of roles in mob-based movies. This time around, she, too, adds a different spice to the role.

Together, Deniro and Pfeiffer, who appeared together in the films Stardust and New Year’s Eve, but never actually appeared in a scene together, strike a harmonic chord playing husband and wife in this comedy/drama.

As the story goes, 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 (Deniro), his wife Maggie (Pfeiffer) and their two children, Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) can’t help resorting to old habits by handling their problems the “family” way. One thing leads to another and soon Blake’s former Mafia cronies track him down to even the score.


Blake, whose real name is Giovanni Manzoni, has attempted to go straight and start over in the various locations in which he’s been placed. A Brooklyn hood whose grandfather was a driver for Vito Genovese and whose father was at the Apalachin Meeting in 1957, to pass the time, he begins to write his memoirs, much to the chagrin of his FBI handlers. The agency also recognizes that Manzoni’s anger and violence could be a problem.

The violence gene has been passed to his wife, as well as his kids, who have a low tolerance for irritation.

There are some quirky, yet satisfying performances in The Family, an action satire that pays homage to the mobster movie genre.  The movie feels familiar – and is predictable. At times it feels as if it’s making fun of the mob genre.

Deniro is, of course, Deniro. He knows how to handle a gangster role like no one else. He’s a softy when it comes to his family and even manages to delivers solid humor, accompanied by thuggish qualities.

Pfeiffer brings just the right amount of flighty, while making it quite clear she is in charge. She, too, is like a momma bear when it comes to her children, but will blow up a store at even the hint that she’s being disrespected.


Jones manages to deliver some very funny lines with, of course, a straight, sleepy face.

Argon is wickedly, deliciously, saucy as Blake/Manzoni’s teenage daughter and D’Leo is cool as a typical teen trying to find an angle in every scenario.

The Blake/Mazoni’s, who can’t seem to keep a low profile, are a brilliantly funny, violent, loving, dysfunctional family on the run.

And, although there is enough violence in this movie to rival Private Ryan, it is actually funny.

Director Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element,” “Arthur” and “The Invisibles”) has put together a first rate cast. His direction helps to make the film dark, sexy and even eerie.

The Family, directed by Luc Besson, written by Michael Caleo, executive produced by Martin Scorsese and produced by Virginie Besson-Silla, stars Academy Award® winners Robert Deniro and Tommy Lee Jones, Academy Award nominee Michele Pfeiffer, Dianna Agron, John D’Leo, Domenick Lombardozzi and Jimmy Palumbo.

On the DONLOE SCALE: D (don’t bother), O (oh, no), N (needs work), L (likeable), O (OK) and E (excellent), The Family gets an O (OK)

The Family, (Relativity Media) is Rated R; running time: 111 minutes.

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