IT'S CHRISTMAS EVE as a hardened Wall Street exec (Nicolas Cage) engineers a company takeover with his tired but loyal staff. Jack doesn't need to say "Bah, humbug!" We know how heartless he is, because 13 years earlier he chose an internship in London over marrying his girlfriend (T顠Leoni). Late after work, however, Jack meets an ornery angel (Don Cheadle) who transports him to an alternate reality: He becomes a suburban family man, complete with wife, kids, and minivan. Appropriately cute and romantic, The Family Man is an entertaining enough holiday yarn, reminding us of life's simple but enduring pleasures. Yet this transition isn't easy for Jack: He hates the 'burbs; he hates changing diapers; and he can't seem to get lucky with his wife.
THE FAMILY MAN
directed by Brett Ratner with Nicolas Cage, Don Cheadle, and T顠Leoni opens December 22 at Factoria, Metro, and Pacific Place
Directed by Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), Family Man raises some thorny questions about masculinity and couplehood that its feel-good ending can't resolve. While living as the ultimate NYC bachelor, Jack has a luxury penthouse, drives a Ferrari, and beds a gorgeous blonde. Perhaps something is missing in his life, but if he doesn't miss it, does it really matter? "I have everything I've ever wanted," he says. So where's the discontent?
By contrast, suburbia is a subsequent letdown as the movie emphasizes class differences in Jack's fish-out-of-water dilemma. Far from Manhattan, he earns a middling wage selling tires; his closet is filled with cheap shirts; his friends are overgrown frat boys who couldn't make the Ivy League. However you look at it, suburban life is mediocre, even if you're married to a babe who dirty-dances in the shower.
If men are from Mars, women are from Jersey—that's the unintended message of Family Man, which, despite its romantic story line, actually proposes that a high-achieving, has-it-all man can never really be tamed. A lovely wife and well-behaved children are just trimmings on his tree.