The Family (2013)

Luc Besson directs Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Dianna Agron in this mob comedy where a family of hoods in witness protection struggle to give up old habits in provincial France.

Luc Besson has many directorial strengths. Visualist. Sentimentalist. Broad, brash performance encourager. But comedy is not his forte. He lacks subtlety. The light touch essential to make a set-up and a punchline chime. So here we get a situation that mutes his positives and amplifies his failings. Every scene ends with one of our leads acting out their aggressive violence. DeNiro has been spoofing himself for diminishing returns ever since Analyse This. That was OK, this is cut from the same two decades torn and worn cloth. Pfieffer has good chemistry with Bobby but feels like the least interesting performance to Besson. The kids get a lot of screentime and take over the incongruous action finale. The final 10 minutes is Home Alone With Uzis. Not as good as Home Alone with Uzis starring Robert Fucking DeNiro should be though, even on a bad day. The strange thing is, as shrill as it all plays out, you consistently see a glimmer of what attracted everyone to the project. “Everyone” is a good ensemble, they work well together. A different director, maybe a TV miniseries length to allow the characters and the comedy space to breathe, and you might have had a very likeable Netflix series.

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