Set in Normandy, The Family tries very hard to be a comedy gangster movie, but the result is way off the mark. Starring Robert Di Niro as Fred Blake, he has been put on a witness protection programme after snitching on his Boston based mafia family. There’s a $20 million bounty on his head, so, to keep Fred, his wife, Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and two children Belle (Dianna Argon) and Warren (John D'Leo) safe, the government have shipped them off to France.
While Fred and family try to live in rustic bliss, they all tend to act like homicidal maniacs, so they are ordered by FBI Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to assume new identities every ninety days or so and move to a new location.
There are a lot of things wrong this Luc Besson directed flick. For example, early on Maggie pays for some shopping in Francs, this would have been absolutely fine if we had actually been told that the movie was set in last century. But no mention was ever given to this, leaving the audience baffled at just how out-of-touch the movie is.
Also, Besson seems to have some difficulty in figuring out how to tell the movie's back story. He tries to use voice over from De Niro, but it is misplaced and used sporadically, it reads out segments of a book, again misplaced and even the bad dreams and flashbacks just can't piece together a coherent story.
Top that off with numerous jokes that fall flat and graphic violence, it fair to say The Family really is a mess of a movie.
It is worth mentioning that De Niro and Pfeiffer – when you get past her Boston accent dropping in and out – do put in formidable performances, but why Pfeiffer chose this movie is puzzling.