"I didn't kill him, I took him to the hospital."
Luc Besson is a director whose work I respect and tend to enjoy. The Family doesn't rank amongst his best efforts, but I still had a great time with this dark comedy. It isn't a film for everyone because it mixes some violent action scenes with comedy and has some major shifts of tone, but it worked really well for me. The Family counts with a very strong cast including lead performances from Robert de Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer, and supporting performances from Tommy Lee Jones, Dianna Agron, and John D'Leo. They were all great in this film and I especially enjoyed the small scenes between Tommy Lee Jones and Robert de Niro. The Family isn't exactly innovative, we've seen this sort of film before, and De Niro even starred in another similar movie: Analyze This. We've seen him make fun of the vary roles that made him such a huge star (Goodfellas and The Godfather II) and here he does it once again. Even Michelle Pfeiffer agreed to play the wife of a mobster once again. It was fun to see these Hollywood stars make fun of their stereotypical roles even though they'd done it before. Luc Besson did a great job adapting Tonino Benacquista's novel, and some of his classic trademarks can be found in The Family. Next to Leon and The Fifth Element, The Family really doesn't live up to its predecessors, but it still is an entertaining watch. The film is hit and miss and superficial at times, but it's still worth a watch thanks to some very exciting and funny scenes. Besson also pays homage to Scorsese's gangster films in his own satirical way. The cast makes this worthwhile, especially the beautiful Dianna Agron who is just menacing here.
The Family focuses on the Manzoni's, a former Mafia family that has been relocated to the small french town of Normandy under the witness protection program. Fred (Robert de Niro) and his wife Maggie (MIchelle Pfeiffer) along with their two children Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D'Leo) have had trouble in the past adapting to these new locations due to the fact that bad habits die hard. They always end up trying to solve the problems around them on their own and that makes CIA Agent Stansfield's (Tommy Lee Jones) job more difficult as he continuously has to relocate the family. They are under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob and therefore have many gangsters searching for them so they will have to be on their best behavior in this new town if they don't want to attract attention their way.
The Family doesn't add anything new to the film genre and will probably not be mentioned in any of the actors' resume, but I still had a fun time and was entertained. The film never aspires to be an artistic one, it just puts its strength on the cast and lets them entertain us by playing with their stereotypes and tonal shifts. Besson relies heavily on the performance from the cast and in my opinion they make this film an entertaining one. They just bring so much energy into their roles that it comes through in the film. I even enjoyed the climatic final scene which most have criticized, and the film was energetic enough to make me care for these characters and their outcome.