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The Family: Luc Besson’s Live Action Cartoon

February 28, 2014

The Family movie poster

Now that The Family has settled into domestication on Blu-ray I think the film will find an audience. Shakespeare it ain’t but I think the tonally odd film will find a cult audience. Viewers will be drawn to the live action cartoon that is punctuated by ultra-violence, irresponsible murder and cheeky humor.

Critics and audiences had a hard time figuring out what this little hybrid was all about. The premise is simple. Mafia family in witness protection has to deal with French culture and constant hunting from vengeful mob hitmen. However, they still murder people, have little patience and occasionally blow up French convenience stores. It doesn’t fit any genre and cannot be summarized because of all the combating elements. You have the familiar fish out of water element but you also have a subplot about DeNiro fixing the town’s brown water problem by brutally hurting government officials and plumbers.

The Family treats suicide, cold blooded murder, romance, torture, student/teacher sex, blood, explosions and more cold blooded murder with humor and it gets weird. It is like Dianna Agron’s character. Seemingly normal, super violent and sorta insane.

The Family

Stephen Holden of NYT summed up the film with this quote:

It doesn’t even try for basic credibility. But buoyed by hot performances, it sustains a zapping electrical energy. It might be described as screwball noir. If there aren’t a lot of belly laughs, The Family stirs up an appalled amusement at its gleeful amorality. Some of the heartiest laughs come from the grisly scenes of Giovanni triumphantly venting his rage when he doesn’t get instant gratification or feels disrespected.

When I used the phrase “tonally odd” I mean that it is never structured. The progression of the movie flips between appalling casual violence, coincidences (the newspaper scene is insane), family dinners, flashbacks, daydreams, Goodfellas screenings and a grumpy Tommy Lee Jones. You could throw boulders through the plot holes but that would be too easy. The film is likable because you realize it is a cartoon from the guy who made Leon and The Fifth Element. His movies have always had an odd edge and The Family is no different.

The Family seemed like a mainstream film but surprised many with its quirks and violence. The stunt casting of mafia film vets DeNiro and Pfeiffer felt lazy to some but I didn’t mind seeing them in such an offbeat affair. The Family will not be for everyone but I was able to go along for the ride. Change your expectations, revel in the eccentricity and watch out for tennis rackets.

dianna agron the family

 

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2014 4:58 pm

    Good review. Tried so hard to be funny, but just wasn’t. Instead, it gave us a bunch of likable-presences, yet, nothing fun or entertaining to work with.

    • February 28, 2014 5:07 pm

      It was a weird film. The reason I enjoyed it was because it was so different. Totally unexpected. I like that sometimes. Worth the rent.

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