The Family Man Review

by Susan Granger (Ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
December 10th, 2000

Susan Granger's review of "THE FAMILY MAN' (Universal)
    In this romantic fantasy, Nicolas Cage plays a high-flyer on Wall Street who has everything he wants: wealth, power, position, disposable women and not a shred of regret. But through some mysterious time-travel magic wielded by Don Cheadle, he wakes up on Christmas morning in bed next to his college sweetheart, played by Tea Leoni, and discovers they've been married for 13 years, have two adorable children and a large dog, and live in suburban New Jersey, where he sells tires for his father-in-law. There's abundant humor as he fumbles finding his new identity and, gradually, comes to enjoy this alternate universe, discovering the life he could have led if he had made different choices. The funniest moment occurs when Cage's daughter realizes the ruse and concludes that her real dad has been abducted by aliens. "Welcome to Earth," she lisps. Writers David Diamond & David Weissman and director Brett Ratner are obviously trying for a spiritual, Capra-esque "It's A Wonderful Life" flavor - with a hint of "Me, Myself and I," "Sliding Doors" even "Groundhog Day" - but there are two flaws. First, Cage's character obviously relishes his single, self-centered life with great gusto. Second, in his new life, he still wants to go where the money is, conniving to get not only himself but his new family back into the expensive lifestyle of Manhattan. Plus, there are other plot loopholes, like pivotal supporting characters disappearing, never to be seen again. Nicolas Cage is at his best coping with crisis situations, even dirty diapers, less comfortable with warm, cuddly moments, and Tea Leoni is radiant and lovely, breathing life into a role that could have been one-dimensional. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The Family Man" is a sweet, sentimental 8. A better title might be "It's A Wonderful Wife."

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