The Family – review

Robert De Niro does further damage to his reputation in this mafia comedy pileup

There is a moment in Luc Besson's comedy drama about a mafia snitch hiding out in Normandy when Michelle Pfeiffer pays for some shopping in francs. Suddenly, the scales fall, the clouds part and the whole thing seems to make a sort of sense. For if you'd made a film as bad as The Family, you too might try to sit on it for a dozen years, dusting it down only when some sort of legal requirement demanded cinematic release.

But no. This is an actual brand new film. And the de trop currency, or at least the absent-mindedness about telling us it's set in the last century, is just another baffling detail in the formidable pileup. Robert De Niro does further damage to a reputation much battered by The Big Wedding. The actors playing his and Pfeiffer's children have an unnervingly flirty dynamic. Tight framing increases scepticism about how much was actually shot outside LA. There are jokey bouts of GBH and an attempted rape. The collateral damage involving innocent bystanders is staggering. Just mind you don't get caught in the crossfire.


Catherine Shoard

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

The Family stars Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer - video interview

Xan Brooks interviews the stars of The Family, Luc Besson's gangster comedy about a mob boss who's hiding from the mob in small-town France

Xan Brooks and Henry Barnes

21, Nov, 2013 @11:00 AM

The Family – review | Mark Kermode

Robert De Niro dials in his performance as a mafia boss living in witness protection in a scrappy, corny action comedy, writes Mark Kermode

Mark Kermode

24, Nov, 2013 @12:05 AM

The Guardian Film Show: Blue is the Warmest Colour and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire - video review

Henry Barnes, Catherine Shoard and Peter Bradshaw review Blue is the Warmest Colour, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Family and Computer Chess

Henry Barnes, Catherine Shoard, Peter Bradshaw, Richard Sprenger, Jonross Swaby and Thibaut Remy

22, Nov, 2013 @7:30 AM

Last Vegas – review

Four sixtysomething friends on the loose in America's gambling capital make for sometimes toe-curling entertainment, writes Mike McCahill

Mike McCahill

02, Jan, 2014 @10:20 PM

Article image
Dark Shadows – review

Tim Burton plays the jokey 'darkness' of his style to totally predictable effect in his latest oddity-comedy, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

10, May, 2012 @2:13 PM

Article image
Untouchable – review
The hype about this irreverent take on disability is justified, writes Dalya Alberge

Dalya Alberge

20, Sep, 2012 @9:38 PM

Article image
Sightseers – review

Comedies don't come much darker than this chillingly distinctive caravan caper from the makers of Kill List, says Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

29, Nov, 2012 @9:00 PM

Article image
Prince Avalanche – review
David Gordon Green aims for the middle ground between arthouse and fratpack with this unfinished-feeling film about road painters, writes Peter Bradshaw

Peter Bradshaw

17, Oct, 2013 @9:15 PM

Article image
Papadopoulos & Sons – review
A sincere north London comedy-drama exploring family relationships – amid kebab shop rivalry, writes Mike McCahill

Mike McCahill

04, Apr, 2013 @9:01 PM

Article image
Booked Out – review

Mirren Burke delivers a fine performance as an eccentric comic-book artist in this gentle comedy from a first-time director, writes Henry Barnes

Henry Barnes

15, Mar, 2012 @10:10 PM