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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Retro Review: Family Business (1989)

Family Business
Cast: Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Rosanna DeSoto
Genre: Comedy Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $12 million 

Plot: Three generations of the same family intend on family business burglary. Somehow, some way, they are determined to make crime pay.

'This Business Is Short-Lived'

A film that only recouped $12 million at the U.S box office during its release and was panned by critics, despite the headlining leads & billed as a comedy Family Business fails, as the comedy and humour do not come through and the script is bland and lacking in watchable moments. I was led to believe that this was a comedy, but the fact of the matter is it is not, - and this is the film's own undoing. 

I was bored as I was sitting and watching this movie, the script didn't leap in front of me; the plot essentially follows three generations of a Jewish family: the grandfather, Jessie, a role undertaken by Sean Connery, the father in Vito played by Dustin Hoffman and the young son, Adam played by Matthew Broderick. Jessie and Vito have had a history of crime and over the years, they have moved on from it but Adam wants to follow in their footsteps by stealing DNA research and log books worth $1 million. As he does so, things go tragically wrong. 

But for say, one scene with Vito beating up a cook in the kitchen, Family Business is stuck on autopilot all the way through and doesn't manage to hit the ground running. It is full of scenes of characters talking to each other, to one another, uttering bland and insipid dialogue.

How is it that a movie with Sean Connery and Dustin Hoffman, two amazing actors who are in it, can be so lethargic and pedestrian as it is? The screenplay is wafer- thin and with some extra work going into this area, it would have given the leads much more to do. Dustin Hoffman does show a little more of his cagey side as an actor, but Vito is not that likeable or charming. The characters are underdeveloped with very little to set them apart. Heck, I'd take Ishtar over this; yes, the movie with Dustin and Warren Beatty, which was declared a bomb in 1987 - there I said. 

The film sits unevenly between a light-hearted fare and serious crime drama with uninviting scenes that do not spark the film to life. There is virtually no humour or comedy, no moral insights, just practically nothing to engage it, or me. 

It's not diabolical or awful - it's just a droning bore of a film that underwhelms in many respects (the tension and drama never making the desired effect that this film needs), with a script that does a huge disservice to the casting, who deserved better. It's disappointing. 

Final Verdict:

What should have been a dark crime caper, Family Business turns out to be a dreary and tiresome melodrama and heist film that lacks the wow factor and excitement, as well as humour, which was wholly unfunny and has nothing to draw me into the film. It was a bore to watch. It's a shame the actors had to contend with such an underdeveloped yet colourless script. If you do watch it, watch it for Sean Connery and Dustin Hoffman and not for the film, itself. 

Both Dustin Hoffman and Sean Connery have found much bigger and resounding success with their other efforts and in Family Business, this is most certainly not one of them. This is undoubtedly the worst Dustin Hoffman movie I've sat through by a long mile. It just shows that despite the talent on show, it virtually cannot save, nor make up for a flimsy and one-note script.


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