Besson’s “The Family” Needed a Fifth Element…and a Second, Third, and Fourth

the-family-movieWhen a filmmaker has the chance to build around a cast including Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Tommy Lee Jones, many moviegoers would consider that a promising core. Alas, in the case of Luc Besson‘s The Family, the strengths do not go far past the nuclear stage. Besson’s adapted tale of an American family in witness protection in France lacks the commitment of the comedy it was marketed as and the dimensional characters, plot, and scenes required for effective drama. And the film’s failure to be one or the other prevents it from being much of either.

It appears as if Besson and company rested on the assumption that the above-mentioned American screen treasures would compensate for the poor execution of a film that lacks the depth that would demand a narrative investment by discerning viewers. Besson all but confesses this flaw during a scene when Giovanni (Deniro) praises Maggie (Pfeiffer) for the pasta she’s cooked for dinner. When Giovanni compares the food to their bygone meals in America, daughter Belle (she’s in Glee, so I don’t care) explains how the power of nostalgia enhances current experiences that actually pale in comparison. In the case of The Family, Besson’s all-star American cast cannot hide the blandness of this movie, no matter how great they’ve proven to be in the past.

Although examples of how this movie falls short would make this review more thorough, that this article has only one should indicate how worth your time The Family is. Suffice it to say that this movie is a fish-out-of-water mobster “romp” that ought to jump back in and sleep with the rest of them. Bada boo!

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