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'The Family' lurches between laughs

  • (Relativity Media)

Never go against 'The Family'? Well, maybe this one.

Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Tommy Lee Jones revisit some blasts from their pasts in “The Family,” a violent action comedy about a mob family in France thanks to the witness protection program.

De Niro does a little “Analyze This” as Giovanni Manzoni, who ratted out his mob pals back in Brooklyn and now has a $20 million price on his head.

He is, he narrates, “a nice guy” who just has to control “my sadistic urges” better.

He's prone to beating people senseless or to death over things like poor service, “disrespect” and the like. And he's in France.

Funny.

Pfeiffer tones down her “Married to the Mob” turn as Maggie, the long-suffering wife, moving to yet another town where these people — “The Blakes,” they're called this time — need to fit in.

MOVIE PREVIEW: 'The Family'

But her encounters with rude French salesclerks bring out the practicing pyromaniac in her.

Their kids — Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D'Leo) — have another high school to reconnoiter, master and have their way with.

And Jones is a milder-mannered version of his U.S. marshal characters as a government agent who tries to keep these four alive, and keep the incidents with the locals to a minimum.

As the Blakes set up shop in small-town Normandy, Gio, or “Fred,” decides he'll write his memoirs. His cover story now is that he's “a writer.”

Silly Fred — he says he's doing a D-Day book when he doesn't know a thing about the subject. (“It's about the Marines on D-Day.”

Every Frenchman in Normandy knows there were no Marines there.)

Maggie finds a charming, ancient church, and curdles the blood of the local priest with her confession (which we don't hear).

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