On the latest edition of Reel Shorts, Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese are back together in another mob drama that is another eccentric slice of Wiseguy life in The Family.
De Niro is a mafia boss whose family are relocated to a sleepy town in Normandy (France) under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. Despite the best efforts of CIA Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Giovanni Manzoni (Robert DeNiro), his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and their children, Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) cannot help but revert to old habits and blow their cover by handling their problems the “family” way, enabling their former mafia cronies to track them down.
Based on Tonino Benacquista’s novel Malavita (translated to Badfellas), the film is another variation of a mobster in transition. With a $20 million dollar bounty on his head, former mob boss Manzoni and his family, including his wife and two kids are constantly on the move trying to stay several steps ahead of an assassin who is on their tail because Gio turned state’s evidence and has been sequestered in the Witness Protection Program.
Luc Besson’s script establishes early that this family is well-versed in coping with whatever surrounding they’re placed in. Each member of the family showcases their unique style while integrating into their new surroundings; unfortunately, they do so using many of their violent tendencies that are central to the family’s survival, much to the chagrin of Jones.
Unfortunately for the small French town they now live in, they have NO idea what trouble comes their way when they cross this crew. Everything from supermarkets getting blown up, plumbers, school bullies and clueless amorous teens are casualties left in their wake. But their time may be coming to an end because the Mob is closing in to take them down.
Executive produced by Scorsese and paired once again with De Niro, the Oscar-winning actor seems invigorated giving one of his best performances in recent memory playing a character that is very familiar for him. Pfeiffer is solid as a displaced Mob wife who tires of the constant movement but is fiercely protective of her children. While Gio is front and center, it is really the children, Agron and D’Leo who add so much texture to the story. Dropped into a new school with a set of regular kids, these two quickly discern the lay of the land and in no time flat are able to successfully use many of the same traits that made their father an effective boss.
The film is similar in tone to early satirical spoofs of the Mob life, such as The Freshmen and also feels like what Goodfellas’ Henry Hill’s life would have been if Scorsese would have continued his story. While the tone of the film is slightly askew, The Family’s journey is interesting nevertheless; they say don’t ask my neighbors ESPECIALLY if you see Gio and his crew!!!!