Disappointing black comedy

The Family Entertainment One Rating: 14A 110 minutes

The Family is okay, it entertains. But it is a disappointment when you consider the people involved. Directed by Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita), written by Michael Caleo (who’s worked on Soprano scripts), starring Robert De Niro and produced by Martin Scorsese, you expect more.

De Niro plays a former mobster hiding out in France with his family in a witness protection program. Michelle Pfeiffer plays his wife, Dianna Agron the daughter and John D’Leo the son. Tommy Lee Jones is their by-the-book FBI handler.

This has been going on for a while, but since De Niro’s former mob buddies keep trying to find them and kill them all for a $20 million reward, they’ve had to keep moving. Americans in small villages in France are kind of obvious and all four family members are not to be fooled around with. Brutal violence is their usual way of handling problems, and the total of badly damaged Frenchmen adds up quickly. It doesn’t help them remain inconspicuous. Eventually, of course, the mob finds them, through a rather unbelievable plot twist, and there’s the grand finale shoot out.

De Niro, who’s played more psychotic mob characters than almost anyone, is always worth watching. Pfeiffer’s good too, as are both the kids. But the story doesn’t seem focused and rambles. The comedy is intermittent and the violence is hard to take too sometimes, even though it is meant to be part of the black comedy.

Rating: three deer out of five

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Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.