Goofy Mark Wahlberg movie ‘The Family Plan’ plays an endangered family for laughs
Dad takes wife and kids on a road trip with assassins on his tail in the tone-deaf Apple TV+ movie.
As we’ve learned from substantial fare such as “A History of Violence” (2005) and “Nobody” (2021), even if a former hitman succeeds in disappearing from the grid, changing his identity and forging a new life as a docile husband and father, there will come a time when the past comes crashing through the door.
That scenario is played for laughs in the goofy, occasionally amusing yet tone-deaf and casually violent Apple TV+ film “The Family Plan,” which asks us to buy into the premise that going on the run with your family without telling them why and killing a series of foes along the way is a great way to reignite the sexual flames with your wife and bond with your sullen teenage kids.
Mark Wahlberg’s Dan Morgan is a Buffalo-based used car salesman married to the former decathlete turned physical therapist Jessica (Michelle Monaghan), who loves Dan even though he’s a creature of dull routine, from “Taco Wednesdays” to sex once a week on Thursdays to their 18-year tradition of celebrating their anniversary by riding the Twisted Cyclone at a local amusement park.
Apple Original Films presents a film directed by Simon Cellan Jones and written by David Coggeshall. Running time: 118 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for sequences of violence and action, sexual material and some strong language). Available Friday on Apple TV+.
The Morgans have three children: Nina (Zoe Colletti), who wants to follow her idiot boyfriend to Iowa State; Kyle (Van Crosby), who is seething with resentment because his father has banned him from playing violent video games, and tag-along baby Max (played by twins Iliana and Vienna Norris).
Dan is a non-confrontational, blend-in kind of guy who has an aversion to all social media — and we learn why after Dan is spotted in the background of an Instagram post. Dan’s former boss, McCaffrey (Ciarán Hinds), who mentored Dan back in the day when Dan was basically Jason Bourne, now wants Dan dead dead dead for abandoning him all those years ago.
Dan is grocery shopping with little Max snug in one of those front baby carriers when a knife-wielding assassin attacks. They proceed to knock each other all over the store with Max STILL ATTACHED TO HIS DAD. A baby in danger, hilarious!
The jig is up. Dan grabs the obligatory “go bag,” rounds up the family and tells them they’re going on a road trip to Las Vegas. Hey, Dad can be spontaneous after all! Soon they’re on the road, with Dan throwing their phones out the window and insisting they stay off all forms of communication, and how convenient that they’re all fast asleep in the car when he gets the best of a pack of motorcycle-riding would-be killers.
Even after the action moves to Vegas, where Dan intends to meet with a former associate (Saïd Taghmaoui) who will supply him with new identities for the family, Dan refrains from telling his wife and children the truth, which seems, um, wildly irresponsible.
Only after Jessica is nearly killed, and there’s a shootout in a casino, with innocent bystanders panicking and scattering everywhere and this critic wondering how in the world the filmmakers thought this wasn’t a terribly tasteless idea, does Dan’s family learn his real name is Sean and he’s a former killer who has ended the lives of 39 people, plus four more on this little vacation. Dan explains, “We took out the worst of the worst. They were all bad,” so there’s that. Still, the family is kind of upset, what with McCaffrey and his army of killers, including Maggie Q as Dan/Sean’s ex, trying to waste them all.
From the moment of that scene in the grocery store, after which apparently nobody even called the police, “The Family Plan” exists in a world that defies all logic and reality. Granted, this is an over-the-top comedy, and yes, there are a few dark laughs, but this is basically a live-action cartoon with a deadly premise.