Friday, September 13
REVIEW: The Family
Directed by Luc Besson
2013 Comedy Drama
1 hour 50 minutes
From Relativity Media and
Tommy Lee Jones
It was kind of like the anticipation of opening up a great Christmas present and finding a tie. And really, who doesn't enjoy a good comedy with those knee-slapping funny guys, Robert DeNiro and Tommy Lee Jones. Well, the truth is the publicity would have us believe this is a comedy and it is really much more of a drama and not an especially impressive one at that.
The gist of the story is this: an Italian-American family is relocated to Normandy under the witness protection program where they cannot seem to stay out of trouble (dad, mom, son and daughter), eventually leading to the mob finding them. Two FBI agents stay across the street from them while their boss, Jones, sashays about making sure everything and everyone is on the up and up, which, of course, it is not. Admittedly I am not well-versed on the witness protection stuff but I was scratching my head over all this FBI protection in addition to the hiding.
Ok, I had a small laugh or two but most of the amusement was of the wry variety. How did the horde of bad guys arrive with such a cache of weapons? Wasn't airport security working that day? When Pfeiffer crawls across the floor to save DeNiro from certain death, why didn't she just stand up and walk over? She wasn't injured or shy. I've said it before and it bears repeating... when I find myself thinking or saying too many oh come on's in a drama, when credibility is stretched or compromised too many times, I know we have a writer who should have hit the delete key.
Each family member is involved in his or her own little drama separate from the others and all were just patently silly and they never added up to much of anything. Let's just engage the audience in silly exercises while waiting for the bad guys to arrive.
None of the characters seemed very real to me, which is, of course, another deal-breaker. The family itself all bordered on caricature and adding to the mix is that none was very likeable. I wonder what the inducement was for these folks to hire on. Pfeiffer doesn't even work that much and she came back for this? Maybe it was the chance to work with one another. Ooops.
It also had a studio look to the whole thing. Most of the story took place inside which means a sound stage somewhere. Imagine filming in France and not taking photographic advantage any better than they did.
If it sounds like I hated it, I didn't. I was never once bored nor did I fidget in my seat. This was much more an actor-driven piece for me than plot-driven but on both those scores the experience suffered. If I gave half stars, this would have been a one and a half. What can I say?
Tony and Janet