'Malavita', or 'The Family' is supposed to be an action adventure comedy, but it is unfortunately a depressing watch. It is depressing because it has Robert DeNiro in the most cash grabby role of his career, because it has a really worn out Michelle Pfeiffer struggling to deliver a few lines of dialogue, and because it is a wannabe Red.
The film is directed by Luc Besson, who earlier directed the classics 'Nikita', 'Leon the Professional' and 'The Fifth Element' in the ’90s but has since slipped into the role of a producer of Hollywood style French cinema. Mob comedies hit their peak with Analyze This 10 years ago where DeNiro was not only funny but also likable; in Malavita the man is parodying the parody mob character from that movie. This film simply rehashes all the elements of earlier mob comedies, using the same old stereotypes to mine for laughs with no nuance or will to deliver quality satire.
In the film the Brooklyn-based Manzoni family adopts a fake American name and moves to France as part of the witness protection program. They’re on the run because the father Fred (De Niro) has snitched out other mob bosses in New York. Anyone who has seen any other comedy to date will be able to guess what follows in the rest of the movie. The filmmakers even incorporate the tired plot points of the kids having issues with their new home. 'Glee' star Dianna Agron gets to pitch in a few interesting moments as the Mafioso daughter stuck in a school. Even Tommy Lee Jones, who is the undisputed king of deadpan comedy, fails to generate even a single spark of humour here. It’s an old, antiquated film, full of old, antiquated people, and sadly the filmmakers fail to target any particular audience demographic.