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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 EricDSnider

"We'll just call this 'It's a Wonderful Wife.'"
3 stars

It's safe to assume that if you were going to create a modern Scrooge and didn't want to think too hard about it, you'd make him a Wall Street whiz. And how do you convey that a man has no soul? Make him rich, of course! Wealth and soullessness are synonyms!

Don't be misled by the title or the wacky-looking advertisements: "The Family Man" is not a family film. The language and sexual content are too strong for children, and the movie is more drama than comedy anyway.

Aside from that, the poky little film has a certain amount of humor and charm, though the jokes are infrequent and the romance unconvincing. It is Christmas Eve 2000 and Wall Street tycoon Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) is working harder than ever. (His employees all complain about it being Christmas Eve; no one points out that it's Sunday, too, for crying out loud.) A multi-billion-dollar merger is about to take place, and he's got no time or sentiment for things like Christmas, not when there are anonymous women to be slept with.

While walking home, he quells a potentially dangerous situation at a liquor store (Question: Why would he do this?) and winds up talking to the bad guy (Don Cheadle). He turns out to be some sort of angel or something (the movie is rather cryptic on this point) and he casts a spell, or whatever angels do, so that when Jack wakes up the next morning, he's in the life he DIDN'T choose -- the one where he married his college sweetheart, Kate (Tea Leoni), has two kids in suburban New Jersey, and works at his father-in-law's tire store.

Boy, if there's anything that will make you break out in a cold sweat, it's waking up to find yourself in New Jersey. At any rate, the movie's most amusing turns come in this chunk, as Jack suddenly has to adjust to a life that, as far as the people around him are concerned, he's been living for 13 years. Still, there's something mildly disquieting when most of the jokes center around such trite things as having to change a diaper, or the fact that a middle-class lifestyle is so beneath the New York playboy. Can't we think of anything better?

It's safe to assume that if you were going to create a modern Scrooge and didn't want to think too hard about it, you'd make him a Wall Street whiz. And how do you convey that a man has no soul? Make him rich, of course! Wealth and soullessness are synonyms!

And why is it that when a film blatantly steals from a classic -- "It's a Wonderful Life," in this case -- the characters almost never acknowledge it? Are we to assume Jack has never heard of that movie and therefore doesn't recognize how it parallels his situation? Or is the movie afraid of pointing out the similarities, hoping we won't catch it if they don't mention it? One can only assume this is the logic behind only vaguely hinting at Don Cheadle's character being an angel, rather than stating it outright.

Nicolas Cage is his usual combination of hyper-crazy and just plain off-center, which is either good or bad, depending on your Nicolas Cage views. That said, he is merely serviceable in a domestic role: not great, not bad, just OK. He seems to be playing the part the way he plays most of his parts, forcing his square quirkiness into a round hole.

Tea Leoni is much better as Kate, displaying an earnestness and likability that buoys the film a great deal. Don Cheadle is good as whatever he is, though he disappears for most of the movie. In the end, everything turns out precisely the way you'd expect -- the film gets no points for originality (we won't even mention the early-2000 Australian film "Me Myself I," which had the EXACT same plot) -- except that it hasn't entertained you nearly as much as you wish it had.

A fine idea for a movie, if not terribly original. But you've got to DO something with it.

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originally posted: 02/05/01 14:40:11
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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 Barøn Téa 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 It´s 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
  Téa Leoni
  Jeremy Piven
  Don Cheadle
  Troy Hall
  Josef Sommer

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