REVIEW: The Family

From the producers of ‘Taken’ and ‘The Transporter’, comes this mafia action-comedy starring Robert De Niro as ex-mob boss Giovanni Manzoni. After De Niro’s character snitches on his mafia clan, the Manzoni family are forced to flee to the small town of Normandy, France under the watchful eyes of the Witness Protection Programme. The Manzonis, now hiding out as the ‘Blake’ family, find it difficult to settle into their new role as ‘normal’ folk as mafia ways and old habits seem to die hard.

Despite their best efforts to blend into the small community they can’t seem to go unnoticed. Family and business are two sides of the same coin for the Manzonis as it seems Giovanni’s wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their two children Belle (Diana Agron) and Warren (John De’Leo) seem to have picked up more than a few tricks along the way. The family are being monitored by federal agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) who is desperate for them to make it work in Normandy. The Manzonis have a reputation for messing things up and agent Stansfield is fed up of finding them a new place to relocate to every 90 days.
Giovanni(De Niro) tries to maintain a conventional family dynamic by ensuring they have dinner together every night and that his children don’t curse. However, in the midst of all this, his short temper leads him to assaulting and in some cases, killing those who try to wrong him, including a plumber who tries to rip him off. Giovanni Manzoni doesn’t take kindly to being wronged but it’s not just him; his wife is notorious for setting supermarkets alight when they don’t stock what she’s looking for. 17-year-old daughter Belle is well able to handle herself, beating the local French boys with a tennis racket when they try to have their way with the pretty girl-next-door type and younger brother Warren is a dab hand at some illegal business dealings in his new French high school.

Needless to say the ‘Blake’ family don’t last very long with their violent yet comedic lifestyle. Their mafia clan soon come to try and wipe them out.

De Niro is refreshing in this off-beat action-comedy. This role is quite a different choice for the veteran actor but he plays it with ease and is capable of providing us with more than a few laugh out loud moments. There is a definite Soprano’s element about this film; providing a light-hearted look at mafia and ex-mafia life. The film shifts from extremely violent to wickedly funny with a few sentimental breaks in between. The suspense throughout the film will keep you watching to see the fate of the Manzoni family.

A funny and unusual take on the lifestyle of a not so run-of-the mill mafia family. It’s different and is guaranteed to keep you laughing.

3.5/5 stars

Rachel Dowdall

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