Not Just Organized Crime, A Real Family: a Review


I assumed it’s another gangster movie with gunfires, blown up cars, and fedoras worn by short men with tobaccos in their mouths.

But in this movie you won’t see violent scenes like in a typical gangster movie. No drama like in the Godfather. No detailed transactions like in the Good Fellas. It’s just a movie about family.

The Maznoni family relocates in Normandy, France, from Brooklyn, New York, because the head of the family, Giovanni Maznoni (Robert De Niro), a mafia boss, rat on to another mafia kingpin Don Luchese. Don Luchese is sent to prison because of it and eventually the family gets a witness protection program from the FBI, under the supervision of Agent Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones).

Now, name being changed from Maznoni to Blake, getting used to living an American lifestyle, the family tries to live up to French expectations or at least fit to its culture. The children Belle and Warren go to school and try to mixed up. However anything that can spark their anger could be dangerous to their schoolmates due to their capacity for violence. Tough and ready to defend themselves against the enemies.

Giovanni’s wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), who has always been supportive to her husband, overheard French people saying racist statements against Americans upon themselves inside the grocery store, blew up the grocery store with a gas tank and lighter fluid. Such members of the family that need anger management.

There are occasions where Giovanni’s short temper have been tested. One is with a plumber who tries to outsmart him, two is with a head of a local fertilizer factory who interrupts him while talking. All because of the brown water coming out his faucet.

Each member of the family is smart and a gangster at heart. “Fuck!” as Giovanni always say, to mean anything unpleasant or funny can be combination of two, has become one of their favorite expression to mean something serious.

So funny there is one scene in the movie where Giovanni, who claims to have been writing a history novel about the Normandy landings, is invited by a local film group curator for a debate about the film Some Came Running starring Frank Sinatra, a film about an aspiring writer with a dark past.

On that event, the curator apologizes that the movie about to be debated is not anymore Some Came Running but The Good Fellas instead.

If you’re a De Niro fan you would really laugh out hard on the floor, wondering what the hell is he going to say about the film? But anyway, after all, it’s Giovanni Maznoni in this movie The Family, and not Robert De Niro.

There are many mixed up categories in the film you would probably wonder if it is a comedy, action, or drama. Perhaps it’s a combination of those three.

The movie is not bad. I like it not just because I’m a De Niro fan. I like it because the film is simply about the story of one family. Imagine what a family would do if somebody puts it in danger.

As the movie slogan goes: “Some call it organized crime. Others call it family.” You will know at the climax why.

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