The Family Man

"OK"

The Family Man Review


Nicolas Cage makes a gosh-darn good Jimmy Stewart substitute in "The Family Man," starring as a Wall Street playboy taught a lesson in life priorities when he gets Frank Capra-ed into an alternative suburban reality that includes a wife, kids, a minivan, a mortgage and a job selling tires for his father-in-law.

His performance is superb as Jack Campbell, a toplofty workaholic millionaire of the new economy who is utterly baffled by waking up one morning next to the college sweetheart (Téa Leoni), whom he'd abandoned to pursue his career 13 years before.

How did he get there? Well, after stiff-arming his ornamental girlfriend on Christmas eve and ordering an emergency merger meeting for dinner time the next day, Jack catches the eye of some kind of cryptic seraph (Don Cheadle) by intervening in a convenience store hold up. When he tells Cheadle he has everything he could ever want in life, the busybody celestial spirit decides Jack's karma needs a realignment and sends him whirling into a world of What Might Have Been.

A pleasing, although frequently irrational, hybrid that injects modern sensibilities into an old-fashioned, warm-and-fuzzy Christmastime script, the idea of "The Family Man" is, of course, that Jack eventually finds himself completely contented in a lifestyle long on dirty diapers and decidedly short on $2,400 suits.

His psyche's sentimental and frequently funny journey to happy family man is predictable, underwritten and a bit too easy -- but Cage is so good at the perplexed instant papa routine that he carries the film through all its frailties. His "oh, no!" reactions to the clothes in his closet and the balance in his checkbook are priceless. Even funnier gags arise as Jack's friends assume he's in the throes of a midlife crisis and as his daughter, who recognizes something is amiss, theorizes her dad has been replaced by an alien.

Téa Leoni ("Deep Impact") shines as well in her role as Jack's adoring wife. The way Cage falls for her all over again feels like true love, and she ads credible marital friction and frustration to the inevitable confrontations that ensue as Jack tries to discern where and when his life changed direction so drastically.

But while "Family Man" undeniably burrows its way into the heart, it does so in spite of being boat-anchored by abundant breaches in the script which director Brett Ratner ("Rush Hour") roundly ignores.

Besides common sense gaps that cause the audience to second-guess Jack's thinking in many a scene, we're shown very little of his struggle with domesticity or what it is about his new life that makes him come to love it. But the elephant in the corner of the room is the fact that the angel (or whatever he is) played by Cheadle has no motivation for jerking this guy around.

"Remember, you brought this on yourself," he says just before dropping Jack into this vicarious life the poor guy initially finds torturous. Oh yeah? How'd he do that? Rich Jack didn't seem like such a bad guy. Cheadle shows up again later promising to "explain it all," then does nothing of the sort.

As soon as Jack has realized he's truly happy with home-and-hearth version of his life, Cheadle returns to yank our hero back into his Manhattan mover-and-shaker existence -- making him instantly even more miserable than he was to leave this life in the first place.

The film weasels its way to a somewhat hopeful finale, but I wouldn't call it satisfying by any stretch of the imagination. I spent 30 minutes after the movie formulating a better ending in my own head -- a synthesis of Cage's two lives that could have left everybody smiling when the credits rolled.

But even though I could easily chew up several paragraphs listing this movie's nagging flaws, the fact is, I liked it. Ratner assembles enough small, bright moments of earnest amusement and sweetness to eke out a victory, thanks largely to talents of Cage and Leoni.



The Family Man

Facts and Figures

Run time: 125 mins

In Theaters: Friday 22nd December 2000

Box Office USA: $73.7M

Box Office Worldwide: $75.8M

Budget: $60M

Distributed by: Universal Pictures

Production compaines: Universal Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 68 Rotten: 60

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Jack Campbell, as Kate Reynolds, as Cash, as Peter Lassiter, as Annie Campbell, Ryan Milkovich as Josh Campbell, Jake Milkovich as Josh Campbell, Lisa Thornhill as Evelyn Thompson, as Arnie, as Paula

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

Advertisement
City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.