Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Family

If you've seen the trailer, you've seen the two decent minutes of Luc Besson's "The Family," a painful exercise in paycheck cashing by Robert De Niro, as a former Mafioso who ratted out his colleagues, and Tommy Lee Jones, as the Witness Protection Program agent assigned to watch over him and his family.

Michelle Pfeiffer makes a rare appearance at the multiplex as De Niro's wife (yuck) and the mother of two precocious teenagers (Dianna Agron and John D'Leo in parts nobody could salvage). As the movie opens, the whole clan has just moved to a small town in Normandy, where they're tracked down by a mob enforcer via a string of coincidences too preposterous to enumerate. 

De Niro today equals cinematic death; I don't think anyone has appeared in more one-star movies lately than he. Tommy Lee Jones has so little to do here he's almost left to flout his contempt for the picture; this is not a performance so much as a mumble. Nobody says or does anything a human being has ever said or done. (When Pfeiffer throws a barbecue to introduce the family to the locals, the dozens of guests arrive all at once.) The movie degenerates into the kind of stupid, perfunctory violence where you wish you could fall asleep, but it's too loud to allow even that small solace. You'd think Pfeiffer - she of "Married to the Mob" - would bring more to the table, but in the (endless) climactic scene in which the goons come for them, machine guns blazing, she sits motionless in a corner, hand on her head, as if posing for a publicity still from "The Fabulous Baker Boys."

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