Have you ever woken up wondering "What If?", "What if I hadn't taken that job?", "What if I hadn't split with my first true love?", "What if I had studied harder?" the possibilities are endless and "What If?" is a very popular theme when it comes to movies. Probably the most famous "What If" movie has to be "It's a Wonderful Life", but one which like its famous predecessor revolves around the Christmas period is "The Family Man". Released in 2000 and starring Nicolas Cage and TÃ©a Leoni "The Family Man" is in many ways similar to "It's a Wonderful Life" but then adds its own twist on proceedings, updating the storyline to a modern setting and making it just different enough to not feel to copycat.
Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage - 8mm) is a career-driven workaholic who has everything: a well paid job, a flashy car, a wardrobe of designer clothes and the attention of any woman his money can buy. But his life changes when, after finishing work on Christmas Eve, he stops an argument in a convenience store and ends up in a conversation about life with the trouble maker Cash (Don Cheadle - Out of Sight). When Jack wakes up the next day, he's suddenly living in a New Jersey suburb, where he's married to his college sweetheart Kate (Tea Leoni - Deep Impact) and is a father of two children, confusing or what?
So that is the basis of "The Family Man" and you wouldn't be wrong to be making comparisons between this and the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" as it borrows heavily from its classic predecessor, but adds to it with its own twist as it adapts it into a modern setting. But it still uses the classic "What If" scenario as the basis of the plot, where as "It's a Wonderful Life" looks at what would have happened if the lead character hadn't been around "The Family Man" looks at it from what life would be like if Jack hadn't made a particular decision.
Although the storyline is not the most original, and has been reworked many times by various other movies, "The Family Man" does make a good stab at being an enjoyable and interesting movie. Most of this can be put down to the performances of Nicolas Cage and TÃ©a Leoni who both keep you entertained with plenty of humour. But there are some wonderful sentimental scenes where Jack begins to understand that there is more to life than making money, luxurious living and caring only for himself. Talking of sentiment, "The Family Man" could easily have over cooked it, and become a mush fest but after a couple of close calls, it remained strong.
What this all boils down to is that although "The Family Man" may not become a classic in the same manner as "It's a Wonderful Life", it is still a very good take on the "What If" question set against a modern back drop. There are all round good performances from its cast and it moves along at a reasonable pace. Fans of Nicolas Cage will of course enjoy this, but it will also appeal to fans of easy to watch movies and Christmas comedies.
Tags: Christmas Movies