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Austin. generations of McMullens overcome their mutual alienation in order to cash in on the commercial possibilities of recombinant DNA. To Vito’s suggestion that the McMullen clan has larceny in its own genes, Jessie replies indignantly: “Carnegie, Rockefeller those are the guys with criminal genes.” Vincent Patrick hangs his screenplay on a clever conceit, though it soon begins to choke: genetically linked bandits plundering genetic material in a society where property itself is theft. However, Jessie is no Robin Hood or even Don Corleone. He is a bungler, a small-time robber and hood with more than a touch of kleptomania. Perhaps because he sees him so rarely, Adam, a brilliant student of molecular biology, idolizes his grandfather. “You’re a class act, Jessie,” gushes Adam, but the class is more lumpenproletariat than prince of thieves. After dropping out of MIT, Adam approaches Jessie with plans for a lucrative, felonious caper. They try to recruit Vito, who, verging perilously on bourgeois, is reluctant to take the risk. “Who the hell put in your head that being safe is what life is all about?” bellows old Jessie Zorba, the New Yorker ashamed of his timid heir, who will not even share the hookers Jessie picks up for them. The chip skipped a generation when it fell off the old block. Family Business begins with a Passover seder and concludes with an Irish wake and a mournful rendition of Danny Boy. Adam has Jewish, Scots, and Sicilian blood, and he is tempted into felony by a former professor named Jimmy Chiu. Like so many of Sidney Lumet’s other films, among them The Pawnbroker, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, and Prince of the City, this is a quintessential New York work, a film that sweeps the dirty urban streets on which blood both flows and defines. Yet the ethnic mosaic here seems contrived, as though inserted merely to explain how lanky Sean Connery, who plays Scottish immigrant Jessie, could have produced Dustin Hoffman’s diminutive and dour Vito, who in turn begat Matthew Broderick’s Adam. Poorly paced and sloppily edited, Family Business teeters uncertainly among the genres of thriller, domestic drama and burlesque. Adam is willing to take the rap for the sins of his sires, but the crime in the film is perhaps the assumption that Connery, Hoffman, and Broderick, who work so well individually, are cast together. We root for the inevitable reconciliation of their characters, when the three ought to have insisted on separate films. Connery’s Jessie is a frisky old geezer who might have made a team with Newman’s Earl Long. There is a kind of shabby integrity to this vibrant scofflaw who is at least candid about his dishonesty. The rapacious lawyers and realtors who flit across the camera are not. They are women, as is the character who sits on the bench representing judgment for an unjust society. It is a patrilineal enterprise, this family business deserving bankruptcy, in which Jessie, Vito and Adam celebrate the dubious male camaraderie of the family of man. The Texas Observer Don’t Miss An Issue. PLEASE SUBSCRIBE CLASSIFIED 42 DECEMBER 29, 1989