Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Dysfunctional Family

Luc Besson can count among his directing credits at least one amazing drama (The Professional) and one laugh-out-loud funny comedy (The Fifth Element).  Well, two out of three, as Meat Loaf might remind us, ain't bad.

The Family has several things going for it - a strong, strong cast of A-list actors (Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer as the parents and Tommy Lee Jones as the weary FBI agent charged with keeping them alive and off the radar) and of up-and-comers (John D'Leo and Dianna Agron [Quinn on Glee] as the teen children).  The film begins as a dark comedy based on the premise of a mob family being relocated to a small village in Normandy and the fish-out-of-New-York-waters tale shows promise.  But the film later veers into much darker, serious territory and, for me, the swerve didn't work.  It was as if Besson was trying to smash together the zany antics of Fifth Element (and the strong musical score of that film) with the heart-wrenching bloodbath of The Professional.  Tricky at the best of times - and this isn't the best of times.

That's a shame, as the comedy bits really do work.  There's good chemistry between the actors (De Niro and Jones are especially fun to watch) and the unlikely chain of events that brings the family's location to the attention of the imprisoned, yet living comfortably, mob boss is fun to watch, as is a lengthy bit about a film society screening mix-up.  But overall, the film just doesn't work.

Maybe a rental.  Maybe.  And while you're at it, pick up a few other films - like The Professional and The Fifth Element.  And, just for fun, grab Stardust which features both Pfeiffer and De Niro.

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