made different choices?
said yes instead of no?
got a second chance?
you're looking for "It's a Wonderful Life" or some sort of
new twist on the classic "A Christmas Carol," look
elsewhere. "The Family Man" is on the other side of sappy
Campbell (Nicholas Cage, "Face/Off," "Leaving Las
Vegas") promises his law school-bound girlfriend Kate he'll be
back in a year. She pleads with him to ditch his internship and his
dreams to stay with her in the States. (Note to self: never believe
anyone promising something at an airport.)
forward to Christmas Eve 13 years later. Jack is CEO of a powerful
Wall Street arbitrage firm and working on a mega-merger late into the
New York night. Of course, Jack plays Scrooge to the rest of the
firm's team, planning a 10AM meeting on Christmas to work out the
deal. It is when Jack crosses paths with streetwise Cash (Don Cheadle
of "Boogie Nights," "Rosewood" fame) at a
convenience store on his way home that the script goes awry--or at
least into the land of predictability.
argues with the stereotypical Asian storeowner over a lottery ticket
to the point of pulling a gun. Jack decides to diffuse the hairy
situation by "buying" the lottery ticket. At this point, he
delivers his fatal line, "I have everything I've ever
wanted." Cash responds, "Are you kidding me? Just remember,
you brought this on yourself."
might you ask, does "Clarence" earn his wings? Jack has to
learn that he doesn't, in fact, have everything--presumably a family
life. Out with the Ferrari, in with the minivan.
-- falls in love with his alternate life. Ding-Ding--"Every
time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings."
night Jack falls asleep in this penthouse only to wake up next to
Kate (Tea Leoni, star of "Deep Impact" and "Flirting
With Disaster," who steals this one). After several "Ground
Hog Day"-esque suburban Jersey scenes, he finds out what his
life would have been like had he answered Kate differently at the
airport 13 years earlier. The sap is not complete until he learns
that, along with two wonderful kids and a mini-van, he saved his
father-in-law's tire business. What a hero!
several predictable "how-do-you-change-a-diaper"
scenes, Jack eventually -- go
Leoni and Nicholas Cage star in the Universal Pictures release
transports Jack back to his "real" life in fairly clever role-reversal
when "family man" Jack goes to buy rock salt at a
convenience store. Back in reality, Jack looks up Kate--who is
preparing to relocate to Paris. Can love conquer all? In this
schmaltz-fest, what do you think?
considerable talents are wasted on a predictable plotting and a
story that's more of a retread than any at Jack's family tire
business. Unfortunately, Oscar-winner Cage is no Jimmy Stewart--and
this is no "It's a Wonderful Life."
by Michael Skordeles