family

Because The Family has an all-star cast, it’s comforting to know that it allows it to shine. As long as Robert De Niro’s adding another action film to his resume, audiences might want to brace themselves for a bloodbath that cashes in on the brutality everybody associates with him. All the same, it’s bold enough to do double-duty as a comedy, and occasionally gets away with laughs more extreme than all that mischief the clan at the center of the whole thing ends up in. As a matter of fact, the best gag in the entire movie, one that isn’t big but too entertaining to disclose here, finds him and Tommy Lee Jones at an event where the film everybody’s watching has more blood than the one he bargained for.

That’s one of the less bloody affairs in the life of Giovanni (De Niro), whose history of crime’s so damning he’s been chauffeuring his family around the globe for two decades to avoid anybody attempting to get even with him. Although his family’s arrived at their latest abode in France, and assumed another batch of identities, his wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) complains it’ll be difficult to hang around, considering how a house call from a plumber is certain to conclude with his guest in a hospital because he doesn’t get along with him. On the other hand, it’s difficult for her to be high and mighty after blowing up a store in the hopes that she’ll get back at a clerk who gossiped about her.

Life’s as busy for the adults as it is for their adolescent children, considering the beating Belle (Dianna Agron) administers to a bunch of boys who aim to steal the heart she’s keeping for an instructor. Blending in is every bit as hard for Warren (John D’Leo), who conspires with a couple of boys to bring down a clique that assaulted him. Getting into that bedlam gives the family’s FBI handler (Jones) a difficult job building up their front as an average family, but he’s beside himself after finding Giovanni’s authoring a memoir to include details about life before drawing the ire of a criminal.

The acting is as delightful as you’d expect, although Agron brings a broader range for her character. Just as the cast members benefit from director Luc Bresson’s encouragement to dig their teeth into their characters, the film functions as easily as it does because of how credible they are. Everybody here deserves credit for bringing emotional gravity – it makes ferocity they engage in easier to bear.