Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick star as three generations of a mixed-heritage family with history in organised crime. Grandpa Jesse (Connery) raised his son Vito (Hoffman) to follow in his footsteps, but Vito raised his son Adam (Broderick) to live life on the straight and narrow. So when Adam’s offered a lucrative job for the three of them, inter-generational conflict ensues.
Billed as a comedy, I don’t think it would have occurred to me to categorise it in that way if I hadn’t known. Directed by Sidney Lumet, the story of a family-based crime which doesn’t go according to plan and its subsequent fallout is a theme he would visit again in 2007’s Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. And while the tone is certainly far lighter than that film, it still feels like a crime thriller.
It hinges on the relationships between our three main characters. Adam takes centre stage as he finds his way in the world, but his relationships with both older men, as well as their relationship with each other, share almost equal importance. Not wanting the kid to go into the life of crime is a well-worn gangster movie trope, but thanks to fine performances (from a cast not exactly awash with family resemblance) and neat direction it’s kept interesting, and the well written screenplay comes to a satisfying and well rounded conclusion.