Worth A Look: 23.53%
Pretty Bad: 15.69%
Total Crap: 5.88%
7 reviews, 60 user ratings
|Family Man, The
Are you a positive or negative person? This film will make you think about your attitude to life.Jack Campbell is a millionaire who works on Wall Street and is the President of an investment company. One night he goes shopping in a grocery store and meets an very unusual man. Jack is then given a glimpse of what kind of life he would have had if he had not left his girlfriend many years ago to go to Paris to learn how to become rich. Jack goes to sleep in New York and wakes up in New Jersey into a working - middle class life. The movie is about the consequences of this.
"Walk a mile in someone else's shoes; it could be good for you."
WARNING - In order to review this film and discuss its meaning, I have to reveal the ending. So . . . if you don't want to know what happens in the end, please don't read this until after you have seen the film.
I believe the meaning of the film is that life is what you make it. That is, an optimistic point of view makes it possible to enjoy life, but a negative point of view can make what could be a good life, seem awful. The film shows this by letting the audience see the world through Jack’s point of view
When the film opens we see Jack’s life in New York through his point of view. He is a rich bachelor, and happy and well adjusted. (This is exemplified in the scene where he tells Kate that they both could go on with their life without each other and be okay.)
When Jack first arrives in New Jersey, we see New Jersey from New York Jack’s point of view, and it doesn’t look very nice. Jack is told that he is lucky to have a house that is being paid off, four bedrooms, two and one-half baths, and an unfinished basement. Considering we were seeing New Jersey from New York Jack’s point of view, my reaction to his New Jersey life was, “How awful.” And, of course, at that point Jack was not used to children, and was thrust in with children and a woman he was not particularly interested in. (It was obvious that, at first, Jack was not really attracted to Kate.)
When Jack begins to see the good things about his life in the suburbs, things he doesn’t have in New York (a circle of friends, a loving wife, children that are fun to be with, and a best friend), his point of view changes and he wants to stay in his New Jersey life. (And he likes it even more when he lands a good job, and feels he will, once again, be a success.) So now we see that life in the suburbs, which Jack initially thought was terrible, now looked good to him.
Jack’s new point of view is obvious in the contrast set up when Jack returns to New York. He wakes up in his bedroom in New York, and, because I had participated in Jack’s positive point of view about New Jersey, the New York bedroom now looked lonely and depressing. (And it didn’t look that bad before Jack went to New Jersey). This shows that life is what you make it.
Jack is a likeable character. And when he risks his own life to defuse the dangerous situation in the convenience store, and afterwards offers to help the “angel,” we know he is a good guy.
He also has class. He wears nice clothes, and knows how to order a meal in a ritzy restaurant.
Jack’s problem, which the “angel” wanted to correct, was that Jack was too satisfied with his life. So the “angel” gives him a glimpse of what his life could have been.
There is not much to say about Kate, except she was a real nice person and loved her husband and children. However, I didn’t like her negative reaction to the idea of living in New York. (After all, if a person is mentally healthy and happy, then being rich can be a good thing for that person. For example, money can give relief from stress.) Kate didn’t seem to see anything positive about New York, she could only see the negative aspects. However, in her defense, she did come through for him, and said she would go to New York if he really wanted to.
Even though the film is a fantasy, it is realistic in two ways. First, it does not have the standard cliché: “Rich people are very unhappy, and working class people are the salt of the earth.” Secondly, the ending was realistic, and a welcome change from films where the boy gets the girl, they kiss, and the film fades to credits. Also, the film did not end with everything changing into Jack’s New Jersey life complete with wife and kids. Instead, we see two well adjusted characters who could continue alone if they had to, but want to sit down over coffee and talk about the possibility of getting together. You are left to make up your own mind as to if they actually do.
I really enjoyed the scenes where New Jersey Jack got a job with his New York firm. However, I was disappointed that we did not get to see him rise to a success when he got the new job. But to show that would slow the plot down.
One question the film forces you to ask is, “What was the nature of the glimpse?” Was it a dream, a drug trip, an alternate reality, etc. And, if it was an alternate reality, what happened to the Jack in New Jersey when Jack arrives from New York and steps into Jack’s life.
The director has answered this question for us in the commentary. The director said that what Jack had was a glimpse. From what the director said about the nature of that glimpse, I think he means that Jack wondered what his life would have been like if he had not gone to Paris, and then he had a daydream or a vision of what that life would have been. It was not a dream in bed at night, but probably like a daydream. So the New Jersey life was not even real.
The next question, which I’ll leave to each viewer, is to figure out when the daydream occurred. That is, did it start after Jack walked out with the “angel,” or did Jack get some sort of vision when his life was threatened by the “angel?” (There are those who believe that, when someone feels they are about to die, their whole life flashes before their eyes. Maybe in Jack’s case, when his life was threatened, he had a vision instead.)The DVD had heaps of extras, and three commentaries, a music commentary, a commentary by the director, and one by the producer. The DVD is well worth watching. I recommend this film.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4609&reviewer=228
originally posted: 08/31/01 00:23:15