Cary, NC – The Family, a new mob comedy starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones has its fair share of laughs and earns a lot of goodwill from its impressive cast. However, the film can’t quite figure out its own tone, swerving back and forth between black comedy and extremely serious family drama, resulting in a somewhat frustrating viewing experience.
Great Cast, But is it Enough for a Movie?
First off, let’s talk about that cast.
Robert De Niro is obviously a legend, and for good reason, but his track record as of late is more than a little spotty. I can’t really say that The Family is a triumphant return to form for the Oscar winner, but it’s obvious that he is quite engaged with the idea of playing a former mobster forced into witness protection after selling out his crime family and friends.
I have to admit that anytime Michelle Pfeiffer is onscreen, I can’t help but smile. Not only is she still absolutely stunning, but she has such a great feel for both comedy and drama and can turn on either at the flip of a switch. I am genuinely grateful anytime we get to see her turn up. Oh, and everyone should love Tommy Lee Jones, because well, it’s Tommy Lee Jones.
Uneven Tone Keeps it from Being a Winner
The main problem, comes from the writer/director, Luc Besson.
Honestly, it’s as if he couldn’t decide what kind of movie he wanted to make. At times, it tries to be an edgy R-rated comedy that doesn’t really know how to be edgy. Then the film jumps right into melodramatic soap opera, particularly involving De Niro and Pfeiffer’s teenage daughter, played by Glee’s Diana Agron.
It’s strange, because the director has mixed genre’s before, to amazing effect. His 1994 action/drama, The Professional, starring Gary Oldman and Natalie Portman did just that.
The really frustrating part is that there are some really good ideas floating around in The Family. I realize De Niro has spoofed his mob image before with Analyze This, but he is such an icon of the genre that there is something really appealing about him playing a former mafia kingpin struggling with the horrors of normal life in his twilight years.
Skip it in Theaters
The movie does have some solid laughs throughout, and the cast is hard to deny. But with all the talent involved, I expect something a little more confident and consistent. The Family is easy Saturday night viewing at home, but definitely save your money and skip it in theaters.
Review by Jordan Hunt for CaryCitizen. Read more CaryCitizen Movie Reviews.