The Family (Blu-ray Review)

The-FamilyLuc Besson made some of my favorite films of the 1990s; La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element.  For much of the previous decade he’s either been missing or taken on many smaller or more localized (for him) projects.  I was actually intrigued by him having a new American film coming out this year, especially with players like Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro and Tommy Lee Jones attached.  The movie pretty much came and went with merely a whimper.  So, when it came time for Blu-ray I was eager to give this one a shot and see if maybe it had a weak release date, wasn’t appreciated upon release or was as lackluster as the reviews for it seemed to have suggested.

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Robert DeNiro plays mafia boss Giovanni Manzoni.  Manzoni and his family are living in witness protection after a failed hit on them led Giovanni to snitch on a rival mob boss.  The story takes place when they are moving into their second home after being discovered in their first hideaway.  As we see, Manzoni’s (parents and kids) have a hard time assimilating into their new places without causing a whole lot of criminal trouble.  The FBI agent in charge of overseeing their protection warns them that this is the last place he’s putting them.

I don’t know where it is this movie went wrong.  On paper this thing should be at least somewhat enjoyable.  I’m a fan of Luc Besson as a director and the film is shot very pretty and looks really good.  The cast is pretty great.  However, this mob comedy winds up being really vanilla.  There’s nothing bold about the movie and most of it seems to be played very safe at every turn.  Most of the film’s plot deals with a lot of irrelevancy and just sort of the characters “hanging out” and doing inconsequential things.  It’s all just kind of there until it takes a 3rd act turn that is fitting with a mob movie but doesn’t feel at all in tune with the film we’ve been watching up to this point.

The film’s performers do come to play.  DeNiro is DeNiro and Tommy Lee Jones brings his usual to the table.  Michelle Pfeiffer is the one that seems to be really enjoying herself here.  She’s got a cool vile mischievousness to her.  It’s a rock solid top to bottom performance from her as she is the real standout of the film.  I also was really on board with Dianna Agron as someone to look out for in the future.  Aside from a few episodes of Veronica Mars I’d not seen her in anything, but thought she was quite captivating and fully capable of pulling off her character’s story arc.

The Family isn’t a bad movie and I can’t really call it a really good one either.  It’s mob comedy aspect starts losing steam really quick and the film seems to be just sitting around an waiting for a gunfight to be happen at the end.  Each characters has a subplot of their own but it’s all superfluous to the main story at home.  It’s a shame, because the film seemed to have been dealt a healthy hand of cards going into its production that should have been a surefire success.

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The 1080p MPEG-4 AVC family portrait reigns in at damn near perfect.  The only strike I could find against it is that blacks are pure black and no real differentiation in the detail.  No different shades to the darkness, shadows are dark and black hair is just black.  The rest of the film is extremely detailed.  Michelle Pfeiffer is one truly beautiful woman defying age as not even this high res picture can make her appear old.  The skins tones present every blemish, pimple and wrinkle.  The characters without black hair have an extremely well defined look to their dome rugs.  Fabrics and surfaces show all the threads and dirt scuffs made.  This sharp picture is close to being perfect except for the blacks (a priest almost looks like a floating head during a scene where he enters from the shadows).

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The Family beckons a pretty impressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track.  The voices come in nice and clear and at a realistic level.  This track also manages to impressively present each voice as it would be in every setting and environment the scenes provide.  The score keeps itself to a nice complimentary level.  Sound effects are crisp and detail and provide a nice boom.  Effects have a good sense of distance and surrounding playing around from speaker to speaker.  This is a very legit audio track.

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In addition to the bonus features, the film comes with a sleeve, a DVD copy and an Ultraviolet copy for those of you who like to watch movies on cell phones.

Making The Family (HD, 10:17) – Your typical EPK package used to promote the film with interviews from cast and crew.

The Many Meanings Of FU*%! (HD, 1:18) – A compilation of all the times the F bomb is dropped in the film.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:26)

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This one might qualify as an OK rental.  Purchasing it might wind up as a completely disappointment.  Picking it up for a cheap one-watch isn’t going to harm anyone, but will have you glad you didn’t purchase it.  Its not awful, but considering who this movie had to work with it should be considered a disappointment.  The disc itself has a tremendous audio and video presentation giving the film the best possible chance for first time viewers to take it in.  The extras a bit standard and weak.  Overall, this is a very plain film that’s just sort of “there”.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

2 Responses to “The Family (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Brian White

    I don’t even know what to say 🙁

  2. Gerard Iribe

    I still want to see this one.