When it comes to mafia movies, Robert De Niro is the king. He has been part of a number of iconic mafia films from The Godfather Part II to Goodfellas to The Irishman. One of his mafia films is on Netflix but you better hurry if you want to catch it because it is leaving the super streamer very soon.
The Family stars Robert De Niro as Mafia boss Giovanni Manzoni who, along with his family Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer), Belle (Dianna Agron), and Warren (John D’Leo), find themselves in the Witness Protection Program.
Giovanni (who now calls himself Fred) has offended rival mafia boss Don Lucchese and in turn, Lucchese has set up a hit for Robert De Niro’s entire family. They survive, prompting Giovanni to rat out Lucchese, sending his rival to prison.
FBI Agent Robert Stansfield (Tommy Lee Jones) is assigned to make sure Robert De Niro and his family make it safely and blend into their new surroundings. Their new surroundings, by the way, are in Normandy, France. While Fred is trying to change his violent ways, he is finding it most difficult. His cover is that he is an author in Normandy to write a historical book about the World War II Normandy landings. Problem is, he knows little to nothing about it.
Being used to handling problems a certain way, Fred resorts to those. He beats a plumber who attempts to change all the plumbing in their “new” old home and then does the same to the local fertilizer factory owner who is causing the family’s water to turn brown.
The rest of Robert De Niro’s on-screen family is also having trouble fitting in. Daughter Belle has an immediate attraction to her substitute math teacher, whom she tries to seduce. Maggie decides the best course of action is to blow up a small grocery store because its owner tosses out some anti-American sentiment.
Warren, on his first day of school, gets beaten up by a small group of boys causing Warren to create his own little mafia group. This is the cause of the family’s bigger problems but also maybe what saves them in the end.
Meanwhile, Robert De Niro’s Fred continues to have his own issues. He is asked to attend a local American film event based on his “historical expertise” but when the event shows the movie Goodfellas, Fred can’t help but share his true story. Fearing they may have been compromised, Agent Stansfield orders for the family to be relocated once again.
It wasn’t Fred who compromised the family, though. The school has caught on to Warren’s illegal ways, so Warren decides to use a fake passport to get out of town. At the train station, Warren is ready to leave when he spies seven hitmen arrive and head into town.
What the hitmen soon realize is that they aren’t dealing with any ordinary family. They are dealing with the Manzoni’s, a mafia family that knows how to handle their business.
The Family comes courtesy of Luc Besson, who wrote and directed the film and based the script on the 2004 Italian novel Malavita by Tonino Benacquista. Besson is best known for penning The Fifth Element as well as all three Liam Neeson Taken films.
Of this movie, it was Benacquista who first said that he’d love it if Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer could play the roles of Giovanni and Maggie. He always had wanted big American stars in it. Both the author and Besson were shocked after the letter they sent to De Niro was met with a De Niro acceptance.
As for the film itself, it wasn’t the hit Besson was expecting with names such as Robert De Niro, Pfeiffer, and Jones. While Besson had a special way of handling the comedy in The Fifth Element, critics felt that this wasn’t the case with The Family, a movie which they also felt was confusing, not knowing which genre to lean on. It has moments of comedy, but it also has moments of extreme violence, which Besson is better known for.
Audiences found the same to be true. While they might not have been titillated at the end result, the movie did bring in a nice number at the box office. Besson was given a $30 million budget and saw a $78.4 million return.
Robert De Niro is a film legend. His career began in the mid-60s but really took off with the 1973 movie Bang the Drum Slowly. He then went on to star in Mean Streets, the first of nine movies he’d end up collaborating with director Martin Scorsese on. De Niro would then solidify his standing by starring in one of the best mafia movies ever made with Godfather II. From that point on, De Niro entered legendary status.
Robert De Niro would go on to other big movies such as The Deer Hunter, Raging Bull, The Untouchables, and Midnight Run. As his career progressed, De Niro found himself inching toward comedy and starring in films that were almost a parody of his earlier films. His recent choices left little to be desired (Grudge Match, Dirty Grandpa, The War with Grandpa) but he has also hit some home runs with Hands of Stone and especially The Irishman.
Robert De Niro looks to continue his resurgence with the upcoming Killers of the Flower Moon, his tenth go-around with Martin Scorsese. Be quick, though, if you’re wanting to give The Family a try. It will be gone from Netflix on June 1, 2021.