A mafia boss and his family are relocated to a sleepy town in France under the witness protection program after snitching on the mob. Despite the best efforts of Agent Stansfield to keep them in line, Fred Manzoni, his wife Maggie and their children Belle and Warren can’t help but revert to old habits and blow their cover by handling their problems the “family” way, enabling their former mafia cronies to track them down. Chaos ensues as old scores are settled in the unlikeliest of settings.
The family’s love for each other is unconditional and treats challenges with a baseball bat rather than diplomacy. If a Frenchman disrespects Americans, he might find his supermarket in flames. Its throwaway stuff packed with corny gags about rich French cooking and annoying Gallic manners, in which light relief is offered by the sight of our hero torturing a plumber. Eventually De Niro winds up at the local film society watching Goodfellas – presumably leaving him wondering (as do we) what the hell happened.
If this sounds like a story to turn the nuns’ heads completely around, don’t worry; it’s an ultra “black comedy,” equal parts Italian-American gangster satire and laughable domestic shenanigans. It’s pretty much territory owned by Scorsese and De Niro. Additionally, the use of the “f” word has never been so cleverly played in a comedy. After a few times of “things” happening they came to be expected. But I still couldn’t help laughing. And really the only time I didn’t laugh was because the script decided to have a couple serious moments.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t just stupid laughs. There is a plot, there is acting; there is everything that makes a great comical movie. Some people really hate this movie, but I say if you love humor, this is for you. Comparable movies are Law Abiding Citizen and Donnie Brasco without the corny comedy, 6.3 stars for The family.