Movie Review: THE FAMILY (2013) – A Spectacle Of A Story With No Character Growth

Published by Shah Shahid on

I’m getting a little sick of these ‘twists’ on the typically established genres, especially with guys who made the damn genres famous in the first place. Robert De Niro is, once again, in a movie about Mobsters, which is supposed to be a family action comedy? I think? Here’s my annoyed Movie Review of THE FAMILY.

Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars

You’d think a movie with Robert De Niro & Michelle Pfeiffer would be an amazing piece of work; and you’d only be half right… it is quite the piece of work. THE FAMILY follows the story of an Italian family in the witness protection program due to their mob boss father snitching on the other mobsters. Upon having moved to yet another country with another identity, we catch up with the family as they assimilate to their new lives and names, and how each family members deals with it individually.

This movie is a mish mash of genres and storytelling techniques that don’t actually amount to anything. A chance encounter with his new neighbor causes De Niro’s character to lie about being a writer, which then invokes him to want to be a writer, and write an honest account of how he’s in his current predicament in the first place. This acts as the plot device through which De Niro narrates his past life to the audience, never revealing what he actually did to end up in this position. Being badmouthed at the supermarket makes the wifey, played by Pfeiffer to burn the place down. The son & daughter are shown as being experts of the high school life, avoiding all the clichés and using the system to their advantage. Elements of action and comedy. Then we have Michelle Pfeiffer’s storyline, which is more coming to terms, endearing drama. A mother and wife trying to keep her family together, while hiding from a life of sin, turns to God for solace, only to be rejected by the Pastor once her family’s history is revealed to him. It’s a treat seeing Pfeiffer in a movie after so long, and she plays her part wonderfully, disjointed as it might’ve been.

 Film Title: The Family

The story continues into weird and darker areas where it’s no longer fun but emotionally confusing. The father insists on flaunting his newfound word wielding skill in public, at the risk of exposing him and his family to deadly harm. The daughter falls into love with her teacher, culminating in an awkward, spur of the moment classroom sex scene. The mother is wracked with guilt over her husband’s past life. These adventures go deeper including running away and suicide for the kids… which are interrupted by the bad guys finally finding them, followed by an anticlimactic action scene that is just people shooting guns and lame deaths. During this process however, the entire family is traumatized beyond words. The movie ends with the whole family having to move, yet again, leaving bodies and destruction in their wake.

It’s an ending that leaves everything, not only completely unresolved, but also even more convoluted then when the movie started. The characters don’t grow, or learn anything. They don’t resolve any inner conflict they were having through out the movie. There is no coming together of the family after what they go through together. It’s the four members sitting in a car, exhausted, bloody, and having killed and seen people killed… on their way to start another life all over again, which is how the movie opened in the first place. Quite possibly the worst go-nowhere movie that I’ve seen in a damn while.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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