Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Sweet and silly.
I have to admit. The Family Man clearly takes a few plays out of major Christmas films, but I think it gets away with it. You got It’s a Wonderful Life mixed with A Christmas Carol (pretty much). I don’t call that unoriginality, I call that chemistry, or biology, or something like that. Once these two elements converge, it creates a completely different story all on its own that just seems to fit with the others. It’s inspiration at most, and while others call it “predictable”, I just snap back with “It’s a Christmas movie, take a chill pill!”
Centered on millionaire Jack Campbell, this is a magical tale of redemption. Something you’ve seen in both It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. He feels as though his life is perfect as he swims in his metaphorical fields of gold. However, when he runs into a man threatening a store clerk, he offers his assistance, and it turns out the crook was actually an angel…or something…that sends him to an alternate universe where he never got rich and instead chose love with his college sweetheart, Kate Reynolds. In this alternate universe, he is married with two kids, and as often as he tries, he attempts to somehow get his old life back, and if he can’t, he tries to stick with his old ways and tries to build his old life from the ground up. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what he shouldn’t do, because as the audience falls in love with the family, they start to see how his greedy stuck-up ways is rude and appalling. He needs to redeem himself before he loses both lives.
I consider this one of the best Christmas films around. Yes, it takes plays out of the two films mentioned above. He is rich and greedy like Ebenezer Scrooge, and won’t let his workers stay home for Christmas. Then an angel comes by and shows him what his life would be like if he didn’t exist…or I should say – if his rich self didn’t exist. By adding these two together, you get something just as magical, but different enough to feel unique. I gotta say though, that’s not why I love this film, not even close. That’s just a mere snippet.
In actuality, you love the family. Every one of them, and even the neighbors. It’s well-done chemistry ten-fold, because it is an entire community of great chemistry. Not only that, but there is a very good mixture between the comedy and the drama. Nicolas Cage in a fish-out-of-water tale involving his own life is constantly hilarious, but because you love the family, there are these really effective emotional scenes – from everyone around. It feels so heartfelt with a pinch of holiday magic made this film truly a wonderful experience.
The plot is not all there. Instead of building character and developing true moments of rising action, it kind of plays along like a broken record. You see his character mature and grow, and then he goes and does something else that’s just equally as stupid as before. That’s when things start to feel a little predictable – and not in the way you’d expect from a Christmas tale. A way that feels like the film is dragging on at the same time…which granted, isn’t the best feeling in the world. That doesn’t mean I don’t love it, because it’s still a “buy” from me.
As I mentioned before, I still consider this one of the best Christmas films, filled to the brim with great family messages, moments of hilarity, and heartfelt characters you can really love and care about.
As magical and sweet as this film feels, it still plays like a broken record. Nothing seems to advance in the way that is should, because every time this guy grows and matures, he goes and does another stupid thing that makes you question if he has learned anything at all.
Wouldn’t it be cool to see a sequel to this film where we see where the “family man” version of Nicolas Cage is sent into rich version’s universe? Ha.
Jack: Well, you know everything worked out. I mean, I like Annie.
Kate: Well, good Jack, maybe we’ll keep her.