I must be on an inadvertent Nicholas Cage kick, since here we have The Family Man, my third movie of the year starring Nicholas Cage, and also starring Tea Leoni and Don Cheadle.
It’s a riff of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Nicholas Cage plays Jack Campbell, who left on a plane to London, leaving his girlfriend at the airport. Years late,he has all but forgotten her, as he has parlayed an internship in London into the presidency of a Wall Street firm. He has casual sex with beautiful women, makes hundred million dollar deals…and works his employees on Christmas Eve and Christmas to the bone to make the American capitalist dream.
However, when he does a good turn in a grocery store on Christmas Eve night, Don Cheadle, playing a mysterious entity who shows Campbell a “glimpse”, a look at what his life might have been if he had married his college sweetheart. When Jack wakes up the next morning, he awakens to a raucous house where he is married to Leoni’s Reynolds, has two children, and works for his father in law selling tires.
Naturally, Campbell struggles mightily to regain his real life, only slowly and surely coming to terms with what he considers his alternate existence…
The movie works on some levels but is lacking in satisfaction of the ending, in my opinion. While it is amusing to see Campbell go through culture shock in his new life, his old life is portrayed too smoothly to make it an honest comparison. Jack’s warming to being a Family Man is a little too quick and sudden to be that believable, when it does occur.
Cage is more believeable as a power executive than a would be family man, but Leoni does a great job as Kate Reynolds. The fact that the relationship between them is loving but not ideal is a good, humanistic touch. Too, the ordinary folks that populate Campbell’s family life are well portrayed, particularly Jeremy Piven as Campbell’s best friend.
It was an “okay” movie. I don’t particularly regret seeing it, but I don’t feel it was a particularly great movie, either. The movie is sweet, light, entertainment, and not much more.