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THE FAMILY MAN (2000)
Jack Campbell is a single successful president of P. K. Lassiter Investment House in New York. Living what he thinks is the "good life" (e.g. a life of materiality, prestige, power, and a hot girl friend), when Campbell is given the opportunity to glimpse into what life "would have been" had he chosen to marry his college sweetheart instead of going to London in pursuit of his career, Campbell suddenly finds himself questioning his morals, and that major decision which led to a very different life in deed!
The cast includes: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Josef Sommer, Makensie Vega, Jake and Ryan Milkovich, Lisa Thornhill, Harve Presnell, Mary Beth Hurt, Amber Valletta, Francine York, and Ruth Williamson.
Written by: David Diamnond and David Weissman.
Directed by: Brett Ratner.
Jack Campbell, a corporate entrepreneur, is president of P. K. Lassiter Investment House in New York, making a lot of money, and is thoroughly enjoying the hard work / long hours, his fast car, hot girl friend, 2000 dollar suits, a massive living space and thinks that he is perfectly content with his single life style and the things that he has acquired. He is at the top of success, about to close a huge deal.
Then, things change one late Christmas Eve when he, the last one to leave the office, decides to walk home, stopping by to buy some egg nog. While in a small convenience store, he puts himself in harms way to defuse a volatile situation caused by a disguised angel, Cash (Don Cheadle) who comes to earth to test human beings. Cash is dressed like a street punk, and is trying to cash in a lottery ticket at the counter. The prejudiced Asian clerk refused to even look at the ticket, and tries to throw Cash out. Cash pulls out a gun. John Campbell steps forward and calmly offers to buy the ticket, as a business proposition while looking down the barrel of Cash's gun.
This act of courage and selflessness impresses both Cash and the heavenly council, and it is decided that John Campbell has the heart deep inside of himself to benefit from a glimpse of what he was missing in his life.
Though John goes to sleep in his apartment bedroom, he wakes up in a suburban, New Jersey house bedroom, in a middle class neighborhood. He slowly wakes up to his new reality, as he finds his old girl friend, Kate (Téa Leoni), who now is his wife, laying across his chest. Soon little 6 year old Annie (Makensie Vega), carrying her baby brother comes into their bedroom. It's Christmas day, and the whole family winds up on the bed, exhibiting a wide range of enthusiasm!
A rather shell-shocked John Campbell throws on his sweats and stumbles down the stairway, and the doorbell rings. Kate's parents, people he hadn't seen for 13 years come in bearing gifts. By some miracle, Jack remembers their names as he lets them in.
He bolts out the door and takes the family's used mini-van to the city, only to discover that the doorman to his luxury apartment doesn't know him. Then, on a trip to his office, he discovers that his name isn't listed as being the president of the company in the building lobby. Just then, Cash drives up in Campbell's Ferraro. Cash briefly explains what has happened to Jack, and that Jack, through experiencing this glimpse must figure out what all of this means for himself.
Thus Jack Campbell begins his journey into a life where he isn't the center of the universe anymore, but he finds that he is loved and valued and means so much to other people, and is a better person because of all of them. He rediscovers that he has never stopped loving Kate, and realizes the value of her love for him, and how their relationship makes them both better people. Another surprise he experiences is the joy of being a father and being loved by children. and the camaraderie of having good buddies.
The longer he stays in this alternate universe, the more his way of looking at life is altered, and he realizes just what he had been missing by just focusing on work, wealth and living for oneself. He discovers that there is more to life than just acquiring power, wealth, accomplishments and being committed to one's work. He discovers the deeper meaning of living and sharing your life with others, supporting and loving each other, and that he had never stopped loving Kate.
Of course, this new life style is only a glimpse of what could be or could have been. Cash reappears, and Jack wakes up in his old apartment and his old life, which was once fulfilling, but now very empty and hollow. After checking in with his work team, assembled to handle a crisis concerning the upcoming big deal, Jack Campbell calls Kate's current number that she had left with his secretary just the day before. He finds out that she is moving with her company to Paris, France, and had come across an old box of his stuff.
Will he be able to make the most important deal of his life, and persuade a hardened Kate, who has moved on with her life, to try another relationship with him, because they have the possibility of bringing out the best in each other, creating a rich life / family together based on mutual love and commitment?
This film is a near classic because of a very good screenplay, inspiring direction, great sets, and a talented cast. It is a shame that it doesn't have a PG or G rating, because it has a lot to say about the value of family, love, courage, self-sacrifice, loyalty and what priorities are important.
The dynamic duo of David Diamnond and David Weissman were responsible for this nearly great screenplay, which is only their second screenplay that has been filmed. The script perhaps needed another rewrite to make it a truly great classic, but it does work very well as it is. Their next project together was the film, EVOLUTION.
The fine, inspiring direction was the work of Brett Ratner, who has a flair for comedy, suspense and poignant moments, and knows how to pace a film, involving the audience. He also has done all three of the action comedy RUSH HOUR movies, and directed the recently released horror suspense crime drama, RED DRAGON.
Nickolas Cage does a wonderful portrayal of Jack Campbell who metamorphoses from a money / power oriented business-absorbed person to a family man who has gotten the deeper meaning of life.
Tea Leoni does a great job portraying Jack's loving, sensible wife, Kate, who is patient but sticks to her guns with her husband, who she thinks is having a midlife crisis. She is willing to work it through with him because "I believe in us." Leoni also plays Kate's very different counterpart in Jack's real world, a Kate who also lives for her work, and enjoys collecting high quality art.
The chemistry between Nickolas Cage and Tea Leoni sparkles in both worlds.
Makensie Vega is a great little actress at the age of 6! She holds her own and nearly steals the show in her scenes with Nickolas Cage, portraying Annie.
Nickolas Cage and child actress Makensie Vega have some great scenes together. On the second morning of this new reality, Jack has to change his young son's dirty diaper, dodging an arched stream of pee, all the while being watched by little Annie who immediately sees the truth about him. "You are not really my Daddy, are you?," She asks him. Known that he has been found out, Jack confesses that while he isn't, he knows that her real Daddy loves her and will come back soon. Annie pulls over a chair and stands on it so she can examine Jack's face, which is identical to her Daddy's face. She reveals to him that she thinks that he is an alien. put in the place of her Daddy. She almost starts to cry, but stops when he said that he didn't think he could handle that. She strikes a bargain with him. If he doesn't alter her and her brother's brains, and if he makes chocolate milk, then his secret was safe with her, and she'll help him until her real Daddy comes back.
Another favorite scene is when Jack forgets the wedding anniversary. Jack has a power meeting on what to do over a cup of chocolate milk with Annie, who gives him wise advice, as he brainstorms ideas with her on how to remedy the situation, and get back into the good graces of Kate.
Don Cheadle, a very talented, well-known character actor who excels in supporting roles, does a convincing portrayal of Cash, the angel sent to earth to test human beings. Cash was a small role, but Cheadle really brought Cash to life in ways that must of pleased the director and screenwriters.
Jeremy Piven does a very good job portraying Jack's best, loyal, supportive buddy, Arnie, in the New Jersey alternate world, who is a big help to Jack in his adjustment to being a man dedicated to his wife and family.
The Family Man is rated PG-13 for "sensuality and some language." Unfortunately, this film is not completely family friendly. The language in the script has some potty words uttered by various characters. The sensuality that earned the PG -13 is probably the cake scene (passionate kissing between Kate and Jack on the stairs) and the impassioned huggung scene on the front porch. There is also a scene where Kate is dancing around nude in the shower, to a Rolling Stones tape. She can be seen slightly out of focus through the glass door to the shower.
Jack to Cash: "Because you thought I was *cocky*, I'm now on a permanent *acid trip*?
Annie: "Promise you won't kidnap me an my brother