Family Business

Family Business Information

Family Business is a 1989 film directed by Sidney Lumet with a screenplay by Vincent Patrick, based on his novel. It stars Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick.


Jessie McMullen (Sean Connery) is a Scotch-Irish American widower who emigrated with his Sicilian wife to New York in September 1946. A lovable rogue, incorrigible womaniser and tough guy, Jessie is proud of his criminal past and lifestyle. He raised his son Vito (Dustin Hoffman) to follow in his footsteps, but Vito went straight at 21 when Adam his son was born. Vito now runs a thriving wholesale Twelfth Avenue meat packing warehouse and has left his criminal past behind him.

Over the years, Vito became ashamed of his family's criminal past. He went into a legitimate business, married his middle class Jewish sweetheart and has tried to raise his son Adam right, which in his mind means keeping young Adam (Matthew Broderick) away from his criminally minded yet charming grandfather. Little does Vito know that this strategy has backfired, the mystery surrounding Jessie, coupled with his strict educational upbringing has caused Adam to idolize his grandfather and romanticise his exciting lifestyle.

Now that Adam is grown up (22 years old), he is in college with a scientific scholarship and seemingly has a bright future ahead of him .However six months before graduating he drops out complaining he was already "being put on a pension plan and they had my whole future mapped out". So when he unveils a scheme for a burglary in order to impress his grandfather Jessie, Vito is shocked and disappointed. He warns his son not to pursue this crime and even slaps his face in a bar to drive home the point. This pushes Adam even closer to his grandfather, who can't wait to take a shot at a million-dollar payday, and is eager to re-enlist his reformed son Vito, into the scheme which he calls "the sweetest deal of my life".

Vito is distressed but Jessie is determined to rope him in. The more he hears about the scheme, the more tempted Vito is to give up the safe middle class lifestyle he has carved out for himself and have a return to the wild days of his youth under Jessie. So the three generations of McMullens embark on one great criminal adventure with Vito begrudgingly saying yes on the principle he is there to watch out for Adam along the way.

The plan to steal valuable scientific research from a lab, backfires horribly when having seemingly pulled off the heist successfully, they realise Adam has forgotton the logbook which is a vital prerequisite, if they are to be paid the reward by its suitors. Adam dashes back into the building to retrieve the important document, in his rush he accidentally sets off an alarm on his way out. Vito and Jessie can only watch helplessly from afar as Adam is captured by the police.But before he is captured he manages to throw the logbook towards the other two.

Vito is heartbroken and tearful but Jessie holds their composure and the two safely escape the scene with the stolen research and logbook.

Vito and Jessie hire an expensive shyster lawyer for Adam's defense but are told the only way for Adam to avoid a 15 year sentence is to give up his two mystery accomplices.

Upon discovering Adam is in trouble, Vito's wife instructs him to give himself up along with Jessie in order to get Adam a reduced sentence.

Discovering that the vials contained nothing but water and that the scientific research they stole had been faked, Jessie tracks down Adam's former professor Jimmy Chui who had doublecrossed Adam by selling him on the robbery idea) and makes him pay.

In the meanwhile a crestfallen Vito gives in to his wife's suggestion that he give himself and his father up, and rats Jessie out, as well as giving himself up.

A judge finds all three McMullens to be at fault, but after generously placing both Vito and his son on probation, he throws the book at Jessie,giving him a 15 year sentence- tantamount to a life sentence.

Adam visits his grandfather devotedly in jail while banning Vito from his life. Vito's explanations that he did what he did, he did for Adam's own good, fall on deaf ears as Adam calls him a "piece of garbage" and lambasts him for "ratting out his own father".

Jessie dies in prison, as Vito arrives minutes too late to say a last goodbye. As the body is being carted away, Vito makes a last dash in vain to intercept the body on its way to the morgue. He falls just short as the prison gates shut behind him and he breaks down in tears.

Vito and Adam eventually make their peace months later. Vito agrees with Adam that the most fun they have had as a family was the caper. Together they give Jessie a grand sendoff.


  • Sean Connery - Jessie McMullen
  • Dustin Hoffman - Vito McMullen
  • Matthew Broderick - Adam McMullen
  • Rosanna DeSoto - Elaine McMullen (as Rosana DeSoto)
  • Janet Carroll - Margie (Jessie's girl)
  • Victoria Jackson - Christine (Adam's girl)
  • Bill McCutcheon - Danny Doheny (bar owner)
  • Deborah Rush - Michele Dempsey (Adam's lawyer)
  • B.D. Wong - Jimmy Chui (Adam's Friend)


The movie was critically panned. Family Business currently holds a 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 16 reviews.

Box office

The movie debuted at No. 6. The film found greater success on video rentals.

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Family_Business_%28film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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