THE FAMILY MAN
Angels come in all forms. In this story, Jack's angel gives him a glimpse of what his life could have been had he taken another path. It is a 'what if..' story.
Review by
NICK ALEXANDER

THE FAMILY MAN
(2000)


This page was created on December 29, 2000
This page was last updated on May 16, 2005

Directed by Brett Ratner
Writing credits: David Diamond & David Weissman

Nicolas Cage .... Jack Campbell
T?a Leoni .... Kate Reynolds
Jeremy Piven .... Arnie
Don Cheadle .... Cash
Beth Hurt .... Adele
Josef Sommer .... Peter

Produced by Marc Abraham, Armyan Bernstein (executive), Thomas A. Bliss (executive), Andrew Z. Davis (executive), James M. Freitag (associate), Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche, Howard Rosenman
Original music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography by Dante Spinotti
Film Editing by Mark Helfrich

Rated PG for sensuality and some language.


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1. This Could Be Heaven - Seal 2. Wicked Game - Chris Isaak 3. One - U2 4. You Stole My Bell - Elvis Costello 5. I Don't Know How I Got By - Edwin Mccain 6. World Looking In - Morcheeba 7. Once in a Lifetime - Talking Heads 8. To Be with You - Mr. Big 9. Side Show - Blue Magic 10. La La (Means I Love You) - Delfonics 11. Eres Tu - Mocedades 12. La Donna e Mobile (from Rigoletto) - London Symphony 13. The Family Man Main Title - Danny Elfman 14. Promise - Danny Elfman


What if...
Angels come in all forms. In this story, Jack's angel gives him a glimpse of what his life could have been had he taken another path. It is a 'what if..' story.
SYNOPSIS:
Click to enlargeIn Universal Pictures? and Beacon Pictures? romantic comedy Family Man, Academy Award? winner Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) stars as Jack Campbell, a Wall Street playboy at the top of his professional game ... with little time for anything else. Jack?s lavish, fast-paced lifestyle drastically changes one snowy Christmas night when he unwittingly stumbles into the middle of a grocery store holdup and in a bold display of self-preservation disarms the gunman. Click to enlargeThe next morning he wakes up in a suburban New Jersey bedroom lying next to Kate (Leoni), his college sweetheart whom he left in order to pursue his career, and to the horrifying discovery that his former life no longer exists. As he stumbles through this alternate suburban universe, Jack begins to feel strangely comfortable in this new role of loving husband and father to two children. Jack finds himself at a crossroad, where he must choose between his high-powered career and the woman he loves.

REVIEW BY NICK ALEXANDER

The "Catholic Weird Al"
http://www.nickalexander.com

Click to enlargeTalk about divine intervention!! The in-flight movie for my honeymoon trip was The Family Man. I'm not sure if there could have been a better choice.

The plot: A self-obsessed single yuppie is given an extended "glimpse" of what his life could have been like had he married years earlier. He would have traded the vast riches and freedom in his current career for what initially appears to be the dismal, day-to-day being with his wife, raising his children, taking a blue-collar job, and cutting living expenses. But as time progresses, he realizes that the joy that he had searched for in his materialistic pursuits were his for the taking in his family. Click to enlarge

While the initial setup is weak, and the Don Cheadle character is terribly annoying, the film doesn't cut corners, and honestly raises serious questions as to the nature of selfishness, career aspirations, materialism, and sacrifices for family's sake.

Click to enlargeRecently I've read some reviews of the film that criticised it for not making the Nicolas Cage character "mean" enough in the opening scenes. He is very friendly to his neighbors, and he gives stock tips to the doorman. This criticism has made me like the film even more--it makes the case that one can be very materialistic, but still be a swell guy. This isolates the conflict: materialism vs. being sacrificial; "ME" vs. me-in-a-family.

Years ago, Stanley Kramer received a heap of criticism for making the black character in the then-controversial "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" as Sidney Click to enlargePortier--rich, professional, articulate. What if the character was a more "average" black person? Kramer said the critics were wrong--if the interracial marriage were between a nice white woman and a poor black person, then the conflict would be over whether he could sustain her. By making the black protagonist as "perfect" as can be, he isolated the issue to merely what it was--was it okay to have an interracial marriage, at face value, nothing more. Thanks to that film, that's no longer a taboo it once was, and society has changed to the point that the movie itself has become terribly dated, a sign of its time, nothing moreClick to enlarge

The Family Man uses this same tactic to fine effect. The filmmakers ought to be commended. The film is perfect for churches and families-oriented ministries. I couldn't have been more pleased to have watched it as a newlywed.

LOVED IT!
Subject: Loved it!
Date: Thu, 04 Jan 2001
From: Marie Butson, OH

Going to see this movie was the treat of the weekend! Too bad my kids didn't want to see it because they missed a good one. It resembles Dickens' A Christmas Carol in many respects: another being giving Jack a glimpse into what could be or could have been (depending on your perspective); the ultimate goal being for him to "get it". To understand what life is really about. The Family Man does a great service in holding up that which is truly good: fidelity, even when tempted to be unfaithful; self-sacrifice, when Jack has given up his Wall Street dreams to manage his father-in-law's tire business; valuing children, as he takes the time to talk to his daugher Annie and picks up clues from her. There's not much to criticize in this one. I think it's a winner.

I also noticed some interesting symbolism, especially before Jack takes his trip into the land of "What If".. As Jack and Cash are walking outside talking, (or it may be the scene just before- I'm not sure), a lighted cross on the side of a large building looms over Jack's shoulder. Redemption at hand, maybe? The snow too- white, clean, falling down on Jack's face at moments when there may be a "clean slate" or a new start, nearly at his doorstep.

I'm sure some Christians will pooh-pooh the fact that there's no mention of God or Biblical values in the course of the film. Funny. Dickens didn't outright mention Christ or the gospel in Christmas Carol either, and he even used ghosts (!) to make his point. Some critics also slammed the idea of Cash being a thug pushing a gun in a cashier's face. That scene reinforced the fact that God uses some unexpected means to get our attention and to give us opportunities to do what's right. But these bits don't detract from an uplifting tale that helps to remind all of us of what's important in life. People and not money. Something to remember especially after the recent Wall Street downturns! This could be a terrific vehicle for some good discussion leading to the One who seeks us and has redeems mankind!
Marie Butson, OH

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THE FAMILY MAN ? 2000 Universal Pictures