Family Business (1989) starring Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman, Matthew Broderick, Rosanna DeSoto, Janet Carroll, Victoria Jackson, Bill McCutcheon directed by Sidney Lumet Movie Review

Family Business (1989)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Sean Connery as Jessie in Family Business (1989)

Family Con-nery

You just need to examine the casting and characters to be amused by "Family Business". You have Sean Connery playing Jesse a Scot who having married a Sicilian had a son, Vito played by Dustin Hoffman, if that doesn't make you laugh then having Vito married to a Jew and having a son called Adam played by Matthew Broderick will. In seriousness the casting is wrong but I guess purposefully so because it makes you laugh and so does much of the first half of this crime caper. But that is the thing, the first half of "Family Business" is funny with a comically strained dynamic between 3 generations of the same family but then the second half takes a more serious tone, not completely serious but almost melancholy and it feels at odds with the first half.

So the story is simple Jesse (Sean Connery - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) has been a criminal all his life, in and out of prison so often he knows most older cops as friends. On the other hand his son Vito (Dustin Hoffman - Rain Man) having once done time having followed in his father's footsteps has turned his back on crime to be a respectable business owner wanting the best for his son Adam (Matthew Broderick - Ferris Bueller's Day Off). And so to Adam who has paternal issues because Vito always wanted him to be the best and so has grown close to his criminal grandfather. With Adam coming to Jesse with a scam they persuade Vito to help in stealing a chemical from a laboratory.

Matthew Broderick and Dustin Hoffman in Family Business (1989)

Now the first half of "Family Business" is great because it is all about the fun, the fun of Jesse being a typical old fashioned Scot who throws punches, the fun of him and Vito not getting on and Adam in the middle. You also have the fun of Jesse twisting Vito's arm to be part of Adam's robbery, the preparation for the robbery as well as the crime which has a comedy of errors thing going on. None of which is that original but it is all very amusing and makes you smile.

But then following the robbery the tone changes, I wouldn't say that "Family Business" becomes serious but the fun is toned right down as a family issues and decisions come to the fore. And to be honest what gets delivered in this second half as parenting issues and accusations are slung around is good but it is too different to the fun first half. In fact the tonal shift almost feels like a different writer and director gave us the second half of the movie.

Never the less the amusement of Sean Connery being the father of Dustin Hoffman and Hoffman the father of Matthew Broderick is amusing. Each actor delivers what you sort of expect from Connery being the old tough guy to Broderick having a more business like quality but the weird dynamic works. It is what you end up watching "Family Business" for because it is such a fun blend of actors.

What this all boils down to is that "Family Business" is a fun movie mainly down to the fun casting of Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick. But it is not a movie without problem and the tonal shift half way through makes it too different and the fun of the first half is all but lost as we get accusations and parenting issues taking centre stage.