PG-13, 125 min.
Director: Brett Ratner
Writers: David Diamond, David Weissman
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Joseph Sommer, Makenzie Vega, Jake Milkovich, Ryan Milkovich, Lisa Thornhill, Harve Presnell, Mary Beth Hurt, Amber Valletta, Francine York, Ruth Williamson
I’m pretty sure I’ve written this before, but like many, I wasn’t thrilled with “The Family Man” the first time I saw it. It was kind of a let down. It wasn’t as funny as I’d hoped. It wasn’t as happy as I’d expected. I think that’s because it never lets its main character off the hook.
It’s kind of a modern day “It’s a Wonderful Life” meets “A Christmas Carol”. Nicolas Cage plays a highly successful president of a big business that specializes in mergers and acquisitions. He celebrates his own avarice with zeal. He relishes the life he materialistic life he leads. He’s not broken and run down by the lack of substance in his life. His life is the substance that he created for himself.
However, long ago he let the love of his life go. One Christmas Eve, his good heart and a potentially dangerous situation lands him the chance to see what his life might’ve been like had he chosen a different path when he let his love go. He wakes up and suddenly he’s a suburban house dad. He works for his father-in-law selling tires retail. He has two kids and a beautiful wife, who acts as a pro-bono lawyer. He struggles to make his mortgage, and he drives a minivan.
What works is what might’ve seemed didn’t at first. Nothing fits. He doesn’t just get it like that. He’s not suddenly the perfect dad and husband. He doesn’t just screw up a little. He screws up big time because he has no compass in this territory. It takes a long time for him to get the hang of things and just when he does it’s taken away from him again. I think that’s what really bothered audiences at the time of the film’s release. He didn’t get to have the happy ending everybody wanted for him. He didn’t get to keep his family.