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* * ½

(Violent comedy/drama)

Three great actors, Robert DiNiro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones, aren’t enough to save this violent comedy/drama. “The Family” is short on the comedy and not very dramatic.

The movie opens with a family having a pleasant dinner. There’s a knock on the door. A hitman enters and kills everyone. We later learn that he has killed the wrong family. The target is Giovanni Manzoni and his wife, son and daughter. Giovanni has turned FBI informant and has a $20,000 price on his head.

The FBI has moved the family to Normandy, where they now are the Blakes. They have little tolerance for the snooty French, who hate Americans, but seem to always speak their language. (What’s wrong with subtitles?)

All four retaliate by beating up or blowing up whatever annoys them. Their violence is not subtle, which makes it hard to find any of this humorous and even harder to care much for the family members.

Giovanni pretends to be a historical writer, but spends his time writing his memoirs, much to the concern of the FBI agent (Jones).

The girl falls in love. The boy turns into a wheeler dealer, getting revenge on the kids who bullied him.

The writers throw in a scene about the top ten list of reasons that Giovanni is really a good guy, which looks like a filler for the hour and three-quarter movie. The family even throws a BBQ for the neighborhood, where Giovanni imagines wiping out the guests.

Eventually, the mob discovers their whereabouts and tracks them down, resulting in a bloody battle. Guess who wins?

Good actors are wasted in this bloody attempt at humor. I don’t think the French will rush to see this movie.

Rated R for violence, a bit of sex, and the four-letter word used constantly as a noun and verb.


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