Director Luc Besson sure must love Martin Scorsese’s ‘Goodfellas’. His new film ‘The Family’ is a dark and ultra-violent comedy that plays like a follow-up to that movie, if it showed Henry Hill’s life after he joined the Witness Protection program.
After testifying on their crime bosses, a former New York Mafia family relocates every few months or so, eventually ending up in a small town in France. The story starts with Giovanni Monzani (Robert De Niro) driving his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and his two children (Dianna Agron and John D’Leo) to their latest home. When the kids complain of an awful smell, Giovanni says, “You should have given the dog a bath before we left.” Well, a few minutes later, we see Giovanni digging a fresh corpse out of the trunk beneath the luggage and burying it in their new backyard.
Now known as the Blakes, the family is looked after 24 hours a day by CIA agents in a house across the street. Tom Quintiliani (Tommy Lee Jones) has grown tired of moving the family around because Giovanni can’t behave. He doesn’t smile once in the whole movie.
As Giovanni writes his memoirs, Maggie sets fire to markets, daughter Belle makes sexual advances to her teacher and brutally attacks other kids, and son Warren hustles anything and everything at school. They’re hardly the model family next door, but there’s something sweet about this group. They always have each other’s backs and genuinely love each other, even if a few “fucks” get tossed around at the dinner table. It’s also refreshing to see a brother/sister relationship that’s completely friendly with no sibling rivalry.
As the Blake family tries to fit into the uptight French town, word of their whereabouts gets back to the Mafia in New York, which sends a hit team on the next flight out to kill off the Monzanis once and for all. Naturally, this tight-knit family won’t go down without an epic fight.
What makes this movie work so well is its mix of unrelenting violence and dark comedy, which garners as many laughs as cringes. If you’ve seen ‘Goodfellas’ or ‘The Sopranos’, you’ll spot quite a few familiar faces in the cast, in addition to one of the funniest movie cameos of all time. De Niro seems cozy again playing the former Mafia boss, while Pfeiffer has a meatier character to play around with. The kids are the most interesting here, as they go through French high-school with fists flying and blood gushing.
‘The Family’ is a fun and violent film for the whole family.