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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.57%
Worth A Look: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 15.69%
Total Crap: 5.88%

7 reviews, 60 user ratings

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Family Man, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Try not to throw up as Hollywood preaches about the evils of money."
3 stars

You ever find yourself trying to like a movie more than it deserves? Like, certain plot turns or lines of dialogue will ring false, yet you'll still muddle through, thinking happy thoughts and giving the subject a break? Not me. I did come close, though, while I was sitting through the saccharine falseness that was The Family Man. I wanted to like it, and that strained my objectivity a bit. But that's all over now.

Nicolas Cage is a very likeable actor, at least as far as I'm concerned. He's proven that he can handle comedy with confidence (Raising Arizona or Honeymoon in Vegas, anyone?) and also can wrap himself into a good dramatic role (Leaving Las Vegas and Kiss of Death spring to mind.) In his more recent films, he's also shown an affinity for wacky gunplay and explosions as well. (Any Cage fan must sit through his Hero trilogy: The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off). So it's a safe bet with Nick on hand that you'll at least get a solid performance, and in this area The Family Man does not disappoint at all: Cage is as strong as ever here.

In what can best be described as It's a Wonderful Life meets Trading Places, Cage plays Jack Campbell, a heckuva nice guy who also happens to run a hugely successful brokerage. His pleasant yet selfish ways are put to the test one evening when he intervenes in a convenience store hold-up and meets a mysterious guy named Cash. (Clever name there, huh? Stop me when the symbolism starts drowning you.)

Anyway, when Jack wakes up the next morning, he has two screaming kids and is lying next to his long-lost girlfriend from 8 years ago. It seems Jack has been offered a 'glimpse' of how his life could have been, had he not be so selfish all those years back and gotten himself a job! From this point on, Jack behaves all manic and retarded, as if he's never ONCE seen a 4-year old child. His best buddy is played by the always welcome Jeremy Piven, but his character serves no real purpose in the movie, except as a mouthpiece for spouting unnecessary plot expositions. ("OK Jack. You KNOW you have TWO kids, right? Your wife KATE is so pretty and you guys are MADLY in love....etc.")

His wife Kate is played with a shockingly display of skill by Tea Leoni (Bad Boys, Deep Impact). Aside from her ridiculously long legs, I've never been too impressed with Leoni onscreen, but she easily holds her own with Cage and almost makes the movie watchable. Almost.

It's unlikely that director Brett Ratner was the right guy for this kind of movie. His last film was Rush Hour, for crying out loud. That movie failed at being merely awful, so what made anyone think he was the right guy for a feel-good romance comedy? Was it Ratner who thought a scene of Jack and Kate smooching through some fecal-looking cake was cute? It was disgusting!

While I must admit that The Family Man is an attractive looking film, a director's job is not merely to drop fake snow everywhere and scout cool interiors. Ratner's ham-handedness is most evident in a scene where Jack is looking for some clues into his 'new' past. As he's looking through some videotapes, he sees one clearly marked 'Jack Singing', yet the videotape is comprised of a KATE'S birthday party! In this new world, Jack singing is apparently more important than Mom's own birthday. It was a little detail, but it annoyed me. (P.S. Hearing Nicolas Cage sing reminded me of his nasal whine in Peggy Sue Got Married, and that's not exactly a compliment.)

It's just that everything in this movie is spelled out so clearly, that I was expecting big block letters to flash on the screen. (Being married is good! Money can't buy happiness! Don't be selfish!) What's particularly disturbing is the underlying messages, as if working hard at your job and becoming rich and successful is something EVIL. I doubt that any of the millionaire producers behind this movie would be willing to give up their mansions, just so they could nuzzle with some old college girlfriend! I don't know if this movie means to say "Hey there, Middle Class America. Don't strive for more. Don't reach the next tax bracket. Just be happy where you are and don't complain," but that's the impression this guy got.

It's certainly not the worst option out there, but this is the kind of 'feel-good-but-don't-think' movie that Hollywood parades out constantly, so I can't really recommend it with a clear conscience, although I really did want to. If you're looking for a movie that can best be summed up as 'nice', here you go. If I want nice, I'll pet my dog.

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originally posted: 01/03/01 11:39:57
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User Comments

8/28/08 Shaun Wallner Nicholas Cage is great in all his films. 5 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White Cage plays great role 4 stars
11/18/07 Cory My favorite all-time movie!!! Get it!!! 5 stars
9/01/06 Michele okay 3 stars
9/03/05 Alan Failed to make me feel pity for a lonely millionaire. 3 stars
8/12/05 ES A reverse of 'Mr. Destiny' loses stars because its unoriginal and non-funny 2 stars
1/28/05 Charlie Very Realistic, true life 4 stars
10/29/04 Aaron Smith Sweet winter movie, check it out. 4 stars
6/14/04 Jack Sommersby Unsurpsing, with ho-hum charcters and lackluster direction. Watch "Mr. Destiny" instead. 2 stars
12/30/03 Samuel Great film! Definetly worth a look!! 4 stars
11/30/03 R.W. Welch Fey rom/com has decent script and very strong acting. 4 stars
11/01/03 Dustin Jackson Nicholas Cage is awesome in this movie. 5 stars
10/28/03 Tracie Smegelski Can't relate without having kids! 3 stars
3/18/03 Dark Barn Ta was better than Deep Impact and cuter and hotter as well 4 stars
3/07/03 Taylor Fladgate Funny! Tea Lenoi is red hot. Definitly a date movie. 4 stars
10/27/02 MarktheShark6 It's a good follow-up to Gone In 60 Seconds for Cage, and Ms. Leoni is very a great actress 5 stars
7/27/02 karen goldstein great movie - guy realizes that he is a typical asshole male and changes his ways! 5 stars
7/25/02 palaboy101 really good 5 stars
4/28/02 Logan Bianchi Actually, I loved this movie... very funny 5 stars
1/14/02 Flick Chick really just average - but an extra star because Nick's in it :) 4 stars
1/03/02 Bada Bing Crosby What can I say, there was nothing else on 3 stars
12/10/01 Val very sweet 4 stars
11/30/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) It's okay.Nicolas Cage is a kickass actor.It's the biggest reason I felt like seeing it. 4 stars
11/30/01 The $1.98 Pyramid Cage better than I expected. 4 stars
9/17/01 Bri Ok, but needed to see Tea's wet rack. 3 stars
9/17/01 juli i loved every bit of it. my husband and i grabbed each others hands more than a few times 5 stars
8/20/01 The Bomb 69 I rather enjoyed it, ending kept it from 5 stars 4 stars
8/06/01 seldom scene makes you wonder if you should chase your past or be glad you have what is now. a little pr 4 stars
8/01/01 D.R. It is so refreshing to see a movie like this. An awesome story and very entertaining. 5 stars
7/31/01 Monday Morning Wanted to see Tea and the neighbor lady nekkid, but...not bad anyway. 4 stars
7/23/01 candace he should play superman... 5 stars
6/08/01 Peter Brook I expected this to be utter crap - but it's not. Very, very elegant film, great acting. 5 stars
4/02/01 Andrew Carden I would wait until it comes out on video, unless you're desprate. 3 stars
2/15/01 viking Not Nicolas Cage's best, but still entertaining 4 stars
2/13/01 Laura You see all the good parts in the previews - very predictable! 3 stars
2/08/01 Ray It is wonderful...I love it and I love Nic...he is the best 5 stars
2/08/01 Karen It is wonderful...I love it and I love Nic...he is the best 5 stars
2/05/01 Diego Romero More of Sliding Doors than Its a Wonerful Life 5 stars
1/15/01 Chris Drake Exquisite, despite dream device 5 stars
1/15/01 tanja great movie 5 stars
1/12/01 LA not even heart warming - heart warming crap 2 stars
1/11/01 Boy In The Designer Bubble I haven't seen this much wooden acting since Howdy Doody went off the air. 1 stars
1/06/01 Movie Freek It's not that bad. Leoni and Cage rule, but the ending really really undermines the rest. 3 stars
1/05/01 Philm Phreak Nice Ferrari 3 stars
1/04/01 Nessus Sappy, and Cage walks around in a stupor for 1/2 the movie. A good movie to bring your Mom 4 stars
1/03/01 Collegebrat19 It is a "feel good movie" with enough humor to keep entertained for the whole 2 hours. 5 stars
1/02/01 John Jurik Better than I thought it would be (based on reviews). Tea & Nic do a good job. 4 stars
1/01/01 Joe Smaltz pretty mediocre, Would you like Armani or a Bowling shirt? Come on! 2 stars
1/01/01 j joseph excellent 5 stars
12/28/00 chouck It was good and less sappy than I expected 3 stars
12/27/00 Michael Jimenez Great Date Movie - Very Sentimental for couples 4 stars
12/25/00 poetchuck Great "Its a wonderful life" clone 5 stars
12/25/00 Chris Trader THE Christmas Movie For 2000 5 stars
12/23/00 Jareth David Cuz many people don't appreciate what they HAVE and are greedy & clueless by nature. 5 stars
12/23/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble These kinds of flicks are made so poor guys like us can feel better about our crummy lives. 1 stars
12/22/00 Fellini Stupid boring movie save yourselves 1 stars
12/12/00 James Clark God-it sucks 1 stars
12/12/00 Selina Kyle this movie was horrible you were too nice to that ugly stiff leoni and money is not all bad 1 stars
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  22-Dec-2000 (PG-13)


  25-Jan-2001 (M)

Directed by
  Brett Ratner

Written by
  David Diamond
  David Weissman

  Nicolas Cage
  Ta Leoni
  Jeremy Piven
  Don Cheadle
  Troy Hall
  Josef Sommer

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