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The Family Man (PG-13)

Official Site

Director: Brett Ratner

Producer: Marc Abraham

Written by: David Diamond, David Weissman

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Troy Hall, Harve Presnell, Gianni Russo, Josef Sommer, Lisa Thornhill, Francine York

Rating: out of 5

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas… aww, the next slew of Christmas movies begins to trickle in, starting with THE FAMILY MAN. Predictable yet endearing, THE FAMILY MAN's plot wound its way to the eventual, banal dénouement with a few surprising laughs interspersed. The plot revolves around the exhausted "what if" scenario-in this case, what if Jack (Cage) married his college sweetie, Kate (Leoni).

Jack Campbell, capitalistic megalomaniac, has been chosen to realize the error of his ways and the true spirit of Christmas by humorous prophet, Cash (Cheadle). After a run-in with Cash at a convenience store, Jack is magically transported into a different and wonderful life.

One night Jack goes to bed a greedy bachelor on silk sheets. The next morning he wakes up a loving husband and father in flannel PJs. As Jack yearns to return to his Material World, he falls back in love with Kate and adjusts to life as a tire salesman for Big Ed's (Kate's father's biz). But what to Jack's wondering eyes should appear? Cash returns him to his old life with nary a tear!

Two scenes, one from each life Jack experiences, really made me laugh. One was a scene, delivered with the usual Cage gusto, of Jack the Capitalist strutting through his walk-in closet in black bikini underwear, singing the Rigoletto aria "La donna e mobile" at the top of his voice. It reminded me of his Ronnie character in MOONSTRUCK, which featured La Boheme.

The next scene that had the entire audience in hysterics was Jack the Dad changing his baby son's diaper. In mid-change, a yellow fountain spurts into Jack's direction. A smile crosses Jack's face, and he laughs along with his daughter who's watching everything nearby. Characterizing Jack as an adorable and adoring father figure, this scene starkly contrasts his previous avarice-infested life.

Along with these great scenes, there was a little cheese. Before each transfer to his other life, Jack looks into the sky, snow falls gently on his face in an act of purification, and Danny Elfman's angelic chorus sings in the background. The shot is out of place in this comedy. Maybe if this were a symbolic drama its placement would be appropriate. But in THE FAMILY MAN it is just cheesy.

This movie had moments of laughter and moments of dynamic chemistry between Cage and Leoni. But when weighted down by a plot as heavy as an anchor, the movie had to sink. I'd recommend this movie as perfect for a date video rental, but don't waste money in the theatres.

-Jennifer Prestigiacomo

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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