The Family Man Review

by "Berge Garabedian" (joblo AT sympatico DOT ca)
December 2nd, 2000

RATING: 7.5/10 --> Very good movie

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I could relate to the main character in this movie. No, I am not a family man (yet), but I am presently going through a period in my life, where work has taken precedence over much else, and despite most of it paying off, certain sacrifices are being made to succeed on a professional level. Nicolas Cage's character in this film begins as quite the successful businessman. The sacrifices that he made earlier on in his life obviously paid off for him on a professional level. But would his life have been better if he had not given up his love all those years ago?

And in that same vein, will I, the sad-sack movie critic, also find myself looking back years from now and regretting many of the things that I am presently giving up, in order to thrive in this one area of my life? God knows. But this movie allows Cage's character to live the life he would have had, if he hadn't given up his love way back when. Sadly, this is just a movie and the only way that I will ever know if my present decisions being made are the right ones, would be to "pretend" to be the main guy in this film. Yeah, that's right...I'm the lead character...yeah, yeah...that's it! PS: Me thinks I'm working too hard.

A wealthy man gets the chance to live his life as he would have, if he had made a certain decision 13 years ago. You see, this guy had the opportunity to either go to England for a posh new job or stay at home with his honey. He chose to go to England, made it big, but never loved again. Now, he's getting the fantastical opportunity to live his life under the former circumstances. Would it be a better life? Would it make him a better person? Would it make for an entertaining picture? Let's see.

The feel good movie of the holidays? You bet! This flick is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It's basically a rehashed mish-mash of several other successful Christmas movies including IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE and SCROOGED, with touches of humor, solid acting all around, a nice, cozy feel, a cutesy story and Nic Cage back in the saddle again. It's real nice to see the big lug moving back towards the ol' Nicolas Cage that we all knew and loved before those darn action-blast-'em-ups stole him away from us. You go, girl! Harumph...but let's get back to the movie. Now despite my general sense of appreciation for this film, I did think that it ran a little longer than it should have. I believe a little 15-minute nip and tuck job would have made it just right. Not that it ever got boring. The film is actually quite upbeat, grabbing the audience immediately with insight into the one big secret that nobody in the film seems to know about. Which is always cool. In fact, the entire film ain't nothing but a sweet thang. Not necessarily an original piece or one that'll have you tap-dancing on sidewalks on your way home, but definitely one which deserves a lot of credit for treading over familiar territory, and coming up with fresh twists and enjoyable material.
In fact, the film reminded me a lot of REMEMBER THE TITANS in that sense. Both movies seemed to include material that we'd seen in other films before. Both movies carried in them characters in whom we'd invested ourselves before. And both movies seemed to make the story line quite predictable from early on. But in end, both films worked because the characters in each one and their respective plot lines were solid across the board. You believe Cage's story. You really do see him coming into his own as this "new" person. You really do find humor in many of his newfound responsibilities, from which much of this film's humor is derived. But the movie also works as a romance, a drama about relationships. A cutey-patootie Christmas movie. I personally liked the way that they ended the film (which I won't spoil here), but I think others might be a little disappointed. A personal call. One thing that I do think most people won't be able to deny is the quality entertainment that this film is able to provide. The movie's got a big heart, plenty of humor, a dash of romance, a nice score from Danny Elfman, an interesting story and well-developed characters. And what is it that they say about snowflakes? They all look alike from afar, but up close, each one is actually very different. This film is not original but it works. Warm up the blankies, people, this one is made for the chestnuts, the open fire and the corny holiday lovers in us all.

Review Date: November 29, 2000
Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: David Diamond and David Weissman
Producers: Marc Abraham, Zvi Howard Rosenman, Tony Ludwig, Alan Riche Actors: Nicolas Cage as Jack Campbell
Tea Leoni as Kate Campbell
Don Cheadle
Genre: Dramedy/Romance
Year of Release: 2000
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(c) 2000 Berge Garabedian


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