Oh how the mighty have fallen. There was a time when the name Luc Besson brought to mind classic films like Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita. However, lately he seems to have resigned to making movies that suck more than Nathan Lane at a vacuum cleaner convention. His 2013 mob comedy, The Family, is no exception.
The plot goes something like this: A mafia snitch and his family enter into the witness protection program and are relocated to a small town in the French countryside. Each member of the family then proceeds to paint the town red with the blood of innocent French people as you’d expect borderline mentally challenged caricatures of New York Italians to do. It’s like the nosebleed section at any Yankees game.
The film seems unable to decide what it wants to be. It’s not funny enough to be a comedy, not dark enough to be a crime flick and not serious enough to be a drama. The Family is to movies as The Black Eyed Peas are to music. To call it a "mob movie" would be like calling Papa John’s "Italian food".
De Niro plays the lead, Giovanni, proving once and for all that he doesn’t give a fuck anymore. He just cruised through the entire thing, reciting lines with whatever motivation or emphasis he felt like, regardless if it fit the scene or not. His performance was, at best, flaccid, but what do you expect from a made man who’s 70-years-old? I’m positive he’s laughing all the way to the bank, copping a feel of Michelle Pfeiffer’s ass along the way. Thug Life.
Speaking of Michelle Pfeiffer, she’s still a complete smokeshow, in case you were wondering. She could legit reprise her role as Catwoman tomorrow and make Halle Berry look like a bag of dog shit in the process. If there was an Academy Award for being a stone cold cougar, Michelle would Meryl Streep that shit every year. Watch your back, Helen Mirren, Shelly’s coming for your title. What lies beneath? That would be my boner.
The only thing I’m 100% percent sure of is that Tommy Lee Jones and his face pancakes are slowly morphing into Droopy Dog like a melting wax figure with an agenda.
The FBI agent assigned to protect the family is played by none other than Tommy Lee Jones, who apparently has the monopoly on crotchety federal agents in Hollywood. In fact, he played the role of witness protection babysitter once before in the 2005 film, Man of The House. My question is, did he just straight up forget that he made that movie because he’s old (although somehow younger than De Niro)? Or did he just repress it deep down like a child who gets his funny parts touched by Uncle Dan? Neither answer would surprise me. The only thing I’m 100% percent sure of is that Tommy Lee Jones and his face pancakes are slowly morphing into Droopy Dog like a melting wax figure with an agenda.
Other members of the cast include Dianna Argon, best know as the slutty cheerleader on Glee and Domenick Lombardozzi, the bald guy from The Wire who might be the same person as Jerry Remy’s son. Also, Vincent Pastore—who ironically played the snitch Big Pussy on The Sopranos—made a brief appearance. I guess it’s good to know that he’s not dead yet.
The movie had almost no redeeming qualities. Even the soundtrack and score sounded like they were pulled straight from the live-action Inspector Gadget movie with Matthew Broderick.
Interestingly enough, the film seems to perpetuate the stereotype that all French people are misogynistic, American-hating assholes, when in reality, only Parisians are dicks. Everybody knows that.
I found it particularly curious that everyone in the titular family seemed to have a heavy Brooklyn accent except the daughter for some reason. Argon just seems to be perfectly content with her decision as an actress to talk like she’s from Beverly Hills. Close enough, I guess?
Perhaps worst of all, The Family was choco-full of obnoxious references to other mafia movies, like the scene where De Niro—wait for it—watches Goodfellas in a neighborhood film club. Get it, guys?! Because Robert De Niro IS IN Goodfellas. So fucking clever. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go swallow a bunch of pills and see what happens.
Four Pins Rating: 3.5/10 Morbidly Obese Italian Hitmen Dressed Like They’re From Spy vs. Spy.
Matt Rimer is a writer living in Boston. Follow him on Twitter here.