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'The Family' Review

Released September 13, 2013 The Family is an action-crime, comedy drama starring Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones.  The official synopsis is about a family that has recently relocated from Brooklyn, NY to Normandy France under the witness protection program.  The Family , which stars De Niro as a gangster-turned-informant and seeks to pay homage to great mob movies of the past, in a comedic re-envisioning.

De Niro stars as Fred Blake (not his real name), a violent but ultimately pitiful former mobster.  Along with his two children (played by Dianna Agron and John D'Leo) and his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), he's in the witness protection program but is ill-suited for such a calm and relaxing life. When a plumber tries to cheat him, Blake viciously attacks him, leaving him in the hospital.
One of the film’s ongoing humor is that the whole family is in the witness protection program but that program hasn’t changed their mindsets at all. The family has moved to France and is immediately vengeful towards the locals. When Blake’s wife overhears some negative talk about Americans at a grocery store, she blows it up. When their daughter has a bag stolen at school, she finds the culprit and attacks her nonchalantly in the girl’s bathroom.
The list of “incidents” goes on as we’re told; the family has a pattern of doing these things time and again.
Tommy Lee Jones appears as the Blakes’ main contact in witness protection. The Oscar-winning actor is continuously disappointed as the Blakes continue their reign of terror on anyone who aggravates them.
The main plot revolves around one of the guys that Fred ratted on; he is coming back to get him. Of all places, Fred and his family are discovered in a school newsletter that Fred’s son contributed to finds its way back to the United States and to a prison, where a random quote used in a story gets the mob all antsy about finding the Blakes and killing them.
I would say that one of the many drawbacks to the film is the comedic take on the gratuitous graphic violence; in fact there are many instances where it should indicate a more serious tone. To add to this is an inane love story featuring Blakes’ daughter romancing and sleeping with a math teacher. I felt that this was something that could have been left out especially since it displays an inappropriate relationship between a 17 students and teacher. Despite its flaws, The Family is one of the better movies of the fall. Our Rating 7.5 out of 10

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