Let’s Get Reel: The Family

Zach Benalayat ’17, Life & Style Columnist

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The Family is an incredibly dull action-comedy movie about a family of four psychopaths who terrorize a small rural French town for about an hour and a half. The titular family is headed up by Robert De Niro as an ex-mafia hit man who has spent the last several years in the witness protection program with his family. Their newest hideaway is a small French town in Normandy. “Wackiness ensues.”

This movie commits the worst sin an action or comedy can make: it’s painfully boring. Despite establishing early on that the family is being hunted by a mafia death squad not once is there any inkling of tension until the last twenty minutes. Instead the movie spends the bulk of its time focusing on each member of “The Family” attempting to integrate themselves into French society with some pretty dark results. Most interactions they have with the citizens of town ends with either an imaginary or very real scene of the family brutally beating and injuring these people. There is some dark humor to be found in these scenes, but the tonal and personality shifts each family member experiences during these scenes makes it more uncomfortable than funny. There is also no exploration of the consequences of their actions, except for a stern talking to by De Niro’s handler, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Jones is only in the movie for a few scenes, but the scenes with him and De Niro are probably some of the best parts of the movie in a dramatic sense. The audience really gets the feeling that the despite having been on opposite sides of the law for a long time the two respect one another and that Jones actually cares about the welfare of De Niro and his family.

The family itself cannot be discussed without spoiling the movie, mostly because they have no discernible personality traits outside of the events that befall them.

SPOILERS BEGIN

De Niro turns in about as good a performance as you can expect at this point, which is to say he’s done a hell of a lot better and a hell of a lot worse. His character spends the entirety of the movie attempting to figure out why the water the family gets is brown. He proceeds to beat a plumber near to death and drag a CEO of a major corporation across the freeway because of it. He also claims to be writing his memoirs, but we don’t really see much of it so any actual development he could have is lost.

The rest of the family is barely even worth a mention: The daughter (Diana Agron) falls for a local college boy who she wants to lose her virginity to, the brother (John D’Leo) starts a racket in the school, and the mother (Michelle Pfeiffer) doesn’t do much of anything save for blowing up a convenience store and almost get raped at the climax. You didn’t misread that, there is a near rape scene in this movie. It is almost entirely without reason other than someone in the family needed to be in danger and Michelle Pfeiffer was the only one unarmed.

SPOILERS END

Truth be told this movie lacks so much substance that it defies review. It has absolutely nothing to offer you in either comedy or action. It is neither good nor bad enough to merit your attention. Maybe catch when it pops up on FX in a year or so, but don’t waste your money seeing it in theaters.

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