The Family Man is a 2000 film directed by Brett Ratner. The first scene at the airport seems to set an ironic and satirical tone, since there’s no way that the dialogue between the two lovers Jack (Nicolas Cage) and Kate (Téa Leoni) could sound serious. And immediately after that, here’s Nicolas Cage singing La donna è mobile: simply priceless. And what about the porter who greets him as if he were one of Truman’s neighbors in The Truman Show (1998)? It must be a parody, right? The Christmas music and the religious symbols around the city (like a huge cross of window lights on a Manhattan building) surely can’t be taken seriously… Or can they?
Here’s the actual plot. Jack is a successful and unscrupulous entrepreneur who works even at Christmas. He’s also an unrepentant womanizer. On Christmas Eve 2000 he receives a message from his ex Kate, thirteen years after their last meeting: he wants to see him. But then (thanks to Don Cheadle’s character) Jack finds himself in a different life where he’s not rich, he married Kate, and they have two kids! This finally gives the green light to Cage’s overacting who almost goes crazy for having lost his life as a rich Don Giovanni and finds himself trapped in the life of a middle-class American family.
In short, let’s face it: this is the classic Christmas comedy in which a horrible person realizes that he’s indeed horrible, repents and becomes a better person. Everyone understands that well before halfway through the film, but there’s a series of cringeworthy scenes to experience before reaching the finale.
Jack doesn’t recognize his friends, Jack disappoints Kate two hundred times (but she seems to have a reset button after each time because she always treats him as if nothing had happened), Jack complains that he’s poor… Two hours of this stuff is too much, I would have easily cut half an hour of this movie.
Luckily, Nicolas Cage is as entertaining as ever shouting and moving around like a mad man. Despite that, I still found the movie almost unbearable to watch. As usual, the perfect American family is the one where the parents both work, they have two children, they have the dog, spend their weekends doing barbecues with friends… Uff…
And then why do all romantic comedies end with the same exact scene? He runs for the streets of the big city, he finds her just before she goes away forever, declares his infinite love and convinces her to live happily ever after together? Really? But don’t Hollywood writers get bored with this cliché? Naturally, if it’s Nicolas Cage it’s fun to watch, but… it’s always the same dialogue! How boring!!! “You make me a better person“, “I choose us“, “I love you“…
In short, if it weren’t for Nicolas Cage and for the presence of Saul Rubinek that I will always remember as a great villain in an episode of the third season of Star Trek: The Next Generation (The Most Toys), I wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone… Ciao!