The Family Blu-ray Review
So what exactly happens to a former mafia boss when they rat out their family? When you think about the situation a mobster and his immediate family could find themselves in, it’s actually surprising the question hasn’t been explored more often in film. But the actual mob activity is more exciting, so that gets the most attention. With that in mind, think of THE FAMILY as an exploration of what happens to Henry Hill from GOODFELLAS after the credits roll. After all, we know the mob never forgets, so dreams of living a quiet life in the suburbs is probably never going to come to fruition.
We pick up with Giovanni Manzoni, his wife Maggie and their kids Belle and Warren as they’re on their way to yet another location in the South of France, presumably after their previous location was compromised. Starting in the middle of the action was a good move on the filmmakers since we didn’t really need to know the details that put them in this situation, we just needed to see how they were going to fit into another location. After they arrive, we quickly learn why they’ve had such a hard time fitting in. Maggie blows up a grocery store after the clerk talks trash on Americans, Warren manipulates his entire school and Belle likes to beat up other students. Obviously, a small, quiet town in France isn’t the best place for the Manzonis.
The basic premise is actually a great set up for a fun film and for the most part, director Luc Besson’s film lives up to the promise. The best parts of the film were watching the kids try to fit into their new school and maybe the film would have been better to put the focus solely on them. Things actually start to get more boring in the third act, after the mob finds out where they are and the family has to avoid being killed. The film is clearly a starring vehicle for Robert De Niro, but I actually found his character the least interesting. We’ve seen too many films focus on mobsters trying to fit in, but rarely do we see the wife and kids trying to assimilate in a normal community.
THE FAMILY could have easily been a serious drama or a slapstick comedy. The film never really settles on one direction or the other, but I enjoyed it more when it didn’t take itself too seriously. The relationship between Belle and her student teacher was awkward and unnecessary, as was the subplot about Giovanni writing a book that the FBI didn’t like. If that’s never going to be explored, then there’s no reason to present the idea to the audience. Warren might have been the best character in the film, but we didn’t get to see much of him. There’s a scene where he’s being interrogated by the teachers that really needed to be expanded upon. Instead, the scene stops right before it gets interesting and we cut to Warren running away from home.
THE FAMILY has no place among the great mob movies, but it’s a decent enough film with enough laughs and action to hold the audience’s attention. Some of the subplots were frivolous and the final showdown was anticlimactic, so curb your expectations ahead of time.
THE FAMILY BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: THE FAMILY looks great on Blu-ray. Luc Besson has a specific style and the clarity of this Blu-ray transfer really does it justice.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive.
Making The Family: This is your standard making-of feature, with too many cut scenes to give it any substance.
The Many Meanings of …: There’s a running gag in the film that Giovanni uses the F-word in many situations, all with different meanings. This featurette looks at some of those uses and meanings.