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The Family Man

The Family Man

by Johnny Bray

Jack Campbell is the president of a very powerful brokerage firm. His all work and no play attitude reflects by his decision to work Christmas morning in order to close a major deal. He lives in a fancy penthouse, and drives a Ferrari to work. He has no time for love or romance, just the occasional girlfriend who only comes over at night.

But it wasn't always like that.

As the movie opens, we see Jack and his girlfriend, Kate, saying goodbye to each other at the airport. Jack is on his way to London for an internship, but Kate begs him not to go. He does anyway, and Kate fears she'll never see him again.

She's right. Sort of.

After intervening in a convenience store holdup, Jack meets who we later assume to be his guardian angel. This part of the movie is a little hard to follow, so pay close attention. Jack is then given a glimpse into what his life would be like if he'd married Kate instead of gone to London.

He now lives in New Jersey, has two kids, and drives a minivan. And of course, it's a little hard for him to adjust to the changes in his life. Everyone accepts it as a sort of mid-life crisis, with the exception of his daughter. She believes he's an alien who has kidnapped her dad and taken over his life. But she doesn't mind, as long as he's coming back.

The film has some very funny moments, but is really more of a drama. Tea Leoni steals the show as Jack's wife, which is ironic considering I've never thought of her as much of an actress. The chemistry between her and Cage is excellent, and it really adds to the effect of the story.

One day, Jack encounters his "guardian angel" again, and tells him that he likes this new life and doesn't want to go back. Mr. Angel explains that a glimpse is just a glimpse; there's nothing he can do about that.

The ending, though not as happy as we'd like, is still happy. We can't help but be sad that Jack had to go back to his old life, but at least he's opened his eyes and seen what's really important.

Some may see the film as anti-money, which is not true. It's really just pro-love and pro-family, and doesn't necessarily say that money is bad. It's a heartwarming story that just makes you feel all warm-and-fuzzy inside (although that can be an uncomfortable feeling at times).

The Family Man is directed by Brett Ratner, whom we all know as the guy who directed Rush Hour. It's good to see that he doesn't just stick to one genre as so many directors tend to do.

If you can get over the fact that this movie is a romantic comedy, it's easy to enjoy. It has enough laughs to keep you interested, and you just may find yourself missing your beloved (unless he or she is there with you, of course).

The movie looks and sounds great, with 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1surround sound. There's not really much else to be said since there are not a great number of instances in which great picture and sound are required. But they're great either way.

There's a whole whack of special features included on the disc. There's a spotlight on location, a feature commentary with Brett Ratner and writers David Diamond and David Weissman, a music score commentary with Danny Elfman, deleted scenes, outtakes, a "Hi Jack Montage," a Seal music video, choose your fate game, and DVD-Rom features.

The Family Man, from Universal Home Video
126 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 compatible, Dolby Digita/DTS 5.1 Surround
Starring Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek and Don Cheadle
Written by David Diamond and David Weissman
Produced by Marc Abraham, Howard Rosenman, Tony Ludwig and Alan Riche
Directed by Brett Ratner.


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Updated May 13, 2006