The FamilyRelativity


Luc Besson is known for his stylish shoot-'em-up films, but "The Family" features a different take on the action genre.

After Giovanni
Manzoni (Robert De Niro) snitches on the New York mob, he and his family have to go into the Witness Protection Program. Unfortunately for Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones), the FBI minder assigned to keep them out of trouble, the Manzonis can't seem to stay out of it. Now known as the Blakes, Fred (De Niro), Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), Belle (Dianna Agron), and Warren (John D'Leo) are soon up to their old criminal ways, with action, laughs, and a little bit 'o' heartbreak following them wherever they go.

Before you hit the theater this weekend, here are 10 things to know about "The Family."

1. Don't go to this film hungry.
Maggie's home cooking is a mouth-watering affair, even though she can't always find the ripest tomatoes in France. She cooks elaborate pasta meals for her family and even hand delivers delicious dishes to the FBI agents who help keep an eye on them from across the street. Maggie also has a lot of opinions on French cooking, such as their use of butter and cream, and she isn't afraid to share them.

2. In this family, one word says so much.
As young Warren points out, why would his father want to write a memoir when he can say so much with just the F word? Fred manages to inject every sort of emotion into the expletive -- joy at Maggie's cooking, consternation at the brown water coming out of their faucet, excitement, anger, and more. Eff yeah!

3. Hey, it's that guy from that thing!
If you see a few familiar faces, you're not imaging things. Domenick Lombardozzi from "The Wire," "Entourage," and "Breakout Kings" plays one of the FBI agents who's keeping an eye on the Blake family. And, yes, that is Vincent Pastore from "The Sopranos" playing a mobster on the hunt for Fred. Of course, Dominic Chianese from "The Sopranos" and "The Godfather: Part II" appears as Don Mimino, who is none too pleased with Fred.

4. It's got movie mafia cred.
One of the film's exec producers is none other than Martin Scorsese, whose incredible movie "GoodFellas" makes a small appearance in the film. There are also plenty of other cues to De Niro's storied career, although he stops short of asking if we're talking to him.

5. Everyone speaks English in France.
For a family that's spent time on the run in Paris and the French Riviera, the Blakes don't seem to know how to speak French. Luckily, everyone else they encounter, from school bullies to the plumber, can speak English. Whew!

6. The apples don't fall far from the tree.
As you might expect, Fred is used to dealing with his grievances the way he normally does -- with a baseball bat or other implements. And Maggie's no stranger to arson, especially if you make snotty comments about Americans when you think she can't hear. Warren and Belle are chips off the old block; he hustles other school kids for money, favors, and protection, and Belle is an expert at beating up horny teen boys. Both of them are also quite handy with firearms when it comes right down to it.

7. It's a grumpy dude stare-off.
De Niro and Jones have met their matches when it comes to being grumpy dudes, and it shows in this film. The under-eye bags, the sneers and snarls, and the dry verbal jousting is all here. Don't mess with Fred, and definitely don't mess with Agent Stansfield.

8. It's rated R for a reason.
"The Family" is marketed as a dark comedy, and while there's not a whole lotta blood, there is enough gunplay and other types of violence to make some audience members nervous. Also, all the F bombs. Then again, we've all seen people who bring their kids to slasher movies, so have at it!

9. Michelle Pfeiffer can kick it.
Yes, she can. She can blow up a supermarket with barely a glance back, rock oversized sunglasses like nobody's business, and get her hands dirty when needed. We need more Michelle Pfeiffer in the movies! Get it together, people!

10. Even gun molls want to fall in love.
Belle knows how to break a tennis racket over a guy's head, but love is still a mystery. This girly girl falls for her math tutor, a sweet dweeby bespectacled fellow who helps her pass math and then some. Is he her ticket out of her crazy tumultuous life? She might handle firearms with ease, but men are a different story.



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