By Renee’ Collins
Rating: 4.5 (Out of 5 Reels)
Sure, when I saw the trailer for this film I thought the story was nothing new but the fact that Robert De Niro, Tommy Lee Jones and Michelle Pfeiffer were in it and that it made me laugh, I thought I would give it a chance. The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard (IMDB).
This film begins as the Manzoni family arrives late at night to their latest home provided by the witness protection program. All involved seem to be tired of their situation but dredge on because they must. Patriarch Giovanni or Fred Blake (De Niro) in this latest identity went turncoat on his mafia buddies consequently dragging his entire family into hiding. The problem; they cannot fit in because of their mafia ways; so they are continually being relocated. Robert Stansfield (Jones) is the government agent assigned to keep the family hidden from the mafia and is fed up with the situation because the way they behave. Mom, Maggie (Pfeiffer) just tries to keep the family together and in one piece.
This film works on all levels because of the excellent writing and spectacular acting. Sure, this story has been told over and over but it is the dynamic between De Niro, Pfeiffer and Jones as well as Dianna Argon and John D’Leo who portray their children who make this film interesting and funny. I always prefer films that are smart as well as funny and this one definitely fits into that category. I also am a fan of Luc Besson, director and writer, and I believe it is insight that makes this film above the norm because the writing is excellent, the dynamic between the characters works. I appreciated not only the manner in which this film is edited and shot but the music adds to the overall effect as well.
Keep in mind that this film is at times violently graphic but not overtly and is to be expected when dealing with the Mafia. I also enjoyed the colorful use of their favorite curse word throughout the film. Overall, I found this film to be extremely entertaining and well worth a look even though the overall plot line is nothing new.