But when this good-natured Wall Street mega-titan puts his life on the line to save a convenience store from a firefight, he makes a big mistake. Because that kid with the pistol (Don Cheadle) is no ordinary hoodlum -- he's some kind of wacky angel or ghost-of-Christmas-in-a-parallel-universe or something. And little does Jack know, as he lay himself down to sleep on Christmas Eve, that he'll wake the next morning to the life he could've had if only he'd married his college girlfriend (Téa Leoni, Deep Impact) instead of following his ambition to become one of the world's richest, most powerful men.
The movie tries earnestly to make a case for the intrinsic value of middle class life, but fails miserably to pull through, largely because it makes power brokering look so easy and fun. I won't bog you down in all the little details of Jack's boring suburban life, but suffice it to say he makes the honest, simple life seem pretty unappealing.
Cage's performance is strong enough, at times even believable, but his hairpiece needs some serious work. Leoni is a subtle charmer as the spunky mother of two, and Cheadle's work in the beginning of the film carries a potency not seen since his appearance in Boogie Nights. But, oddly enough, it is the child actor Mackenzie Vega who adds the most dimension to the picture as Annie, the Campbells' precocious daughter. The only really funny or heartwarming moments in the film revolve around Annie's frank (but misguided) understanding that Cage is not her real father but an alien come to observe our planet. Never has the phrase "Welcome to Earth" drawn such touching laughter from an audience. (Except maybe in E.T.. Did they say that in E.T.?)
The Family Man is, in the end, a carefree tale of love and bad New Jersey accents. For every man who's ever wondered what life he could have had if he'd never married the mother of his children, this film has the answer. And, just as you might have suspected, you may have been better off alone. While the film fails in many ways to reach a memorable conclusion, it just might carry enough soft-hearted cheer to make a tired old married couple smile on Christmas eve.
Cage rights Leoni's head.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd December 2000
Box Office USA: $73.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $75.8M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 53%
Fresh: 68 Rotten: 60
IMDB: 6.7 / 10
Director: Brett Ratner
Starring: Nicolas Cage as Jack Campbell, Téa Leoni as Kate Reynolds, Don Cheadle as Cash, Saul Rubinek as Peter Lassiter, Makenzie Vega as Annie Campbell, Ryan Milkovich as Josh Campbell, Jake Milkovich as Josh Campbell, Lisa Thornhill as Evelyn Thompson, Jeremy Piven as Arnie, Amber Valletta as Paula