FILMS… Family Business (1989)


The Family McMullen Bond…


A film about family values, a heist and its aftermath with three generations.


Sean Connery Movie, Family Business – Trailer (1989), Johisfas and pictures @ Tri-star pictures


Family Business (1989) tells of the three generations of McMullen men, in probably three of the more surprising castings for blood relatives. In this film, Sean Connery is cast as Dustin Hoffman’s elderly father and Matthew Broderick plays Hoffman’s son. The reasons for this are however explained in the plot of this screenplay written by the novel’s author, Vincent Patrick.

The film starts with Vito (Hoffman) visiting his in-laws for dinner. His son Adam (Broderick) is there and he tells him he has dropped out of college. This family meal is interrupted by a call from Jessie (Connery) requesting help with bail money having been arrested after assaulting a policeman.

Adam is close to both men, however, there is a long-term rift between Vito and his father due to his father’s ongoing criminal activities. Vito feels Adam should stay away from Jessie due to Jessie his colourful criminal past. Vito was part of it before he cleaned up his act after Adam was born and has put this behind him. Vito now has his own thriving business and hopes his son will have a stable future, away from crime.

Adam tells Jessie about an underhand scam that a former college professor has told him about. This professor proposes that if Adam steals some valuable vials and the logbook from a scientific research company that Adam can make a million dollars. Adam hopes to enlist his grandfather’s help in the burglary and use his past criminal expertise in obtaining these items.

Jessie in turn wants Vito to join them as they need a third accomplice. However, Vito is irate at Adam for wanting to take part in this fearing it will ruin his life. At an Irish wake, surrounded by policemen, the three men discuss this further and the cynical Vito is won over, stating he will join them in carrying out this heist…

To find what happens next, I’ll say the film leads you here and there with more than a few surprising twists. One of these twists – which you will see on viewing the movie – was unnecessary and the rest of the film was surprising in light of this. The ending I feel was unsatisfactory in light of this particular twist in the tale.

By including this scene, it should have led to a completely different ending to the film. The scenes after this scene was shown could have led to the ending our heroes and this cast – and we viewers  – deserve.

This film, cast with three contrasting lead heavyweight actors from the 1980s, Connery, Hoffman and Broderick is worth a look. Director Sidney Lumet had cast Broderick early as he wanted to work with the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) actor. Lumet had also worked with Connery four times prior to this.

He felt strongly that Connery taking Jessie’s role was crucial to the film. However, all these actors are still unbelievable as blood relatives as Broderick is 32 years and Hoffman being seven years younger than Connery.

Connery is a natural at making a character charismatic and lovable and he did so here. As Jessie when he tells his many life stories to his family, he was a natural reminding me so much of my father’s family who always told a good tale. The odd casting is also explained through one of Scottish Jessie’s tales about his Sicilian wife insisting on naming their son Vito.

She was indirectly being responsible for Vito’s diminutive height as there are 8 inches of height between these actors leading to a kind quip by Connery. I was unsure if this was ad-libbed or in the script but definitely a funny moment. Despite Jessie being the anti-hero, I cared more about his outcome than of Vito’s.

Hoffman as his son, in contrast, was almost cold, cynical and understandably against getting involved but it was easy to see how his concern for his son – and his father’s charisma – would get the better of him. Broderick played his character well. Adam seemed almost too naive for his first attempt at crime and was a bit inept at times.

These qualities you see as the film progresses with the latter leading to some comic and tragic moments. These scenes between the three actors were great to see with their rapport in comic scenes. Their connection as characters evident also led to some touching, dramatic heartfelt moments.

There are also some sweet scenes of fatherly moments. A scene I particularly liked during the heist was Jessie’s character arranging Vito’s head disguise so he could see properly, through the tights he was using for this, which was a nice touch. The ladies in the cast, were underused at first, however came into their own as the film progressed.

And yes, as in many 1980s movie, there was an appearance from James Tolkan – Marty McFly’s headmaster from the Back to the Future films – as spotted by Darlin’ husband. And there was also the 1980s Brat Pack mum to recognise. That was supplied via Joel’s mum – Janet Carroll – from Risky Business (1983) playing Jessie’s girlfriend, Margie.

This is kinda ironic with Ferris Bueller (also Broderick) in the cast. As in the heist scenes, you so hope Adam and his family won’t get caught. As if should they have that day in court it would be a case of “And what did you do in your day off to Bueller, Bueller, Bueller?”

Weeper Rating:  😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10

Handsqueeze Rating:  🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂/10

Hulk Rating: ‎mrgreen mrgreen mrgreen mrgreen/10


sidney-lumet-blogathon-3The Sidney Lumet Blogathon, 2016 No 20


This review is part of Sean Munger’s Sidney Lumet Blogathon. Hoffman is also in reviews of Tootsie, The Graduate and Kramer vs Kramer. Connery is reviewed in Outland and Murder on the Orient Express. Sean Connery is also tributed HERE.

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