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The Family Man

Starring Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Saul Rubinek and Don Cheadle
Screenplay by David Diamond & David Weissman
Directed by Brett Ratner

IN SHORT: An average, adult dateflick. Sorta. [Rated PG-13 for sensuality and some language. 130 minutes]

Gee, Christmas time. Time for major warm fuzzies under the guise of self-reflection. How like life, though life at this time of year is usually fuzzed up by great quantities of alcohol. Director Brett Ratner, known for raucous comedies like Rush Hour, avoids major fuzzies in The Family Man; those fuzzies being akin to Frank Capra's once played to death It's A Wonderful Life. If you've forgotten, IAWL features star James Stewart magically observing a world unsullied by his existence. In Ratner's The Family Man, star Nicolas Cage gets to experience the life that would have happened if he had put love ahead of career. And the "angel" in the twenty-first century, though he's never labeled as a Celestial Being, carries a gun.

Welcome to the new millennium, for real.

Once upon a time Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) boarded an airplane and left his college sweetheart, begging him not to go, behind. She went to law school, he to an internship with a brokerage house in London. End of story. Thirteen years later, he's a fabulously wealthy yuppie with a capital Y, bedding model type blondes in his 48th floor penthouse apartment. When all is said and done, the model in the black gown is revealed as a simple blonde girl from Jersey and Cage spends Christmas eve alone.

The next morning, though, after a run in with the pistol packing angel (Don Cheadle) mentioned above, Jack wakes up in the bed of a blonde girl in New Jersey -- kinda ironic, don'tcha think? -- only this blonde is his ex-sweetie Kate (Tea Leoni) and not only is she not a once upon a time long ago ex-, she's his loving wife of almost 13 years. With two kids and a dog and a house in Teaneck, our hero must figure out who these people calling him "friend" are; why the pistol packing "angel" is driving Jack's Ferrari and how the hell did he wind up with a job selling tires to middle aged fathers in minivans?

Watching Cage stumble his way through the suburbs is almost worth the price of admission. Watching Tea Leoni, even unkempt in an oversized T-shirt, is at least worth the price of a rental. The Family Man is a perfectly average fuzzy flick, best appreciated if you've got a number of years of couple-hood under the belt. If you've not reached the point where you have at least one moment in your history that you'd like to try again, you'll fail to be touched.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Family Man, he would have paid...


This would be a just OK adult dateflick (the $5 level) except that the audience that will best appreciate this flick will do so snuggled in front of a teevee.

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