The Family Man (2000)

Reviewed
Wed. 8/15/18
The Family Man (2000)
3.75
Acting
3.5
3.5/5
Morality
5
5/5
Music
2.5
2.5/5
Story
4
4/5
Visuals
3.5
3.5/5
Kernel Factor
4
4/5
A convincing glimpse into an alternate reality
Reviewed By: Steven Siwek
Viewing Environment:
DVD or Streaming >27in
Viewing Crew:
Family
Times Watched:
2
Genre:
Drama
Payment Method:
Rental/Redbox
Review:

"The Family Man" is a beautiful premise - choose the "good life" or the family life? If you got a "glimpse" of both which would you ultimately decide to live? The first time I watched "The Family Man" was probably 8-10 years ago. I wasn't married, no kids, had major financial ambitions and I thought that a work/life balance had to be easier than everyone seemed to make it. Fast forward to today and life is real. Real hard and real beautiful. The impact this film made on me as a late teen/early 20-something isn't as felt today. Probably because, in many ways, I've made my choice - I'm the family man :). Now, choosing to love and honor your family is a daily choice, but my reaction to watching this film now is more like, "yeah Nick Cage, welcome to it bro" rather than having an empathetic feeling of, "Man I don't know. They make a pretty compelling case for both lives. This is tough." So, although the tension is not there for me, I think this film is set up for a remake. I'll explain that later. Also, just to note, I saw that Bret Ratner was the director of "The Family Man", ironic. That being said, I didn't know he was the director of this film, and although I certainly disavow his alleged actions against women I feel there are a lot of people in this movie who had/have no part in that kind of demeaning behavior and there are parts of this story that I really wanted to watch again. 

Acting
Nicolas Cage - Nick Cage - oh man. I honestly thought the downward spiral of Nick Cage occurred after National Treasure. Turns out, he was always a crazy, interesting, and mostly bad actor. To think he is a real person makes me smile. This film is sometimes labeled as a "comedy", which is funny. And although, yes, you'll laugh several times it's less because Nick Cage ("Jack Campbell") is making some incredible jokes and more so because he's so over-the-top - it's funny in a weird way. All this Nick Cage bashing and now let me say, he does have his moments. It's not a film without his quirkiness. His "transformation" is somewhat unbelievable, but I see glimmers of it. Specifically, the scene where Nick and Tea Leoni ("Kate Reynolds") meet at Kate's Manhattan apartment as her movers are packing boxes getting ready to send her to Paris - this scene is gold, and it's the "transformation" payoff on the whole idea of the movie. Tea is great in her performance. Don Cheadle ("Cash") plays a character that I honestly don't get - I mean I do, but I wish I could've seen other ways of how to create the likeness of his character. Jeremy Piven's role as "Arnie", "Jack's" best friend, is a critical role. I wish they would've included him in another scene or two. And lastly, Makenzie Vega ("Annie Campbell") who is the only person to recognize the "new" "Jack" is not her real daddy was a really important and helpful aspect to the Story and characters.
Morality
"The Family Man" is really a beautiful and simple premise. It's a great representation of life - putting our fears of being "held back" by our family commitments up against our selfish pleasures/dreams. If it weren't for the dancing naked in the shower scene via Tea Leoni I would say this is a must watch for families. Otherwise, maybe skip passed that and I think you've got a truly thought-provoking movie to watch.
Music
I don't know what it was about the 90s and early 2000's melodramatic music, but they felt the need to continue the heaviness in tone. It's loud, dated, and way too dramatic. That being said, a silver lining, is the connection of Nick Cage singing in both his successful life and his family life - I thought this was a nice piece of consistency well put in the Story that I'm going to include in this Music category. 
Story
Again, I love the premise...what is the definition of the "good life"? The story has several loose ends that any dream/time travel movie has, but it's very manageable in this story. I think the "transformation" of "Jack Campbell" falls a wee bit short, but not enough to ruin this story. One of my frustrations with the film is they felt the need to explain a lot of things, especially in the beginning. I could almost hear the writer in the performances, not ideal.
Visuals
Visually I was impressed by the locations and the real feelings I got from the "good life" vs. the "family life". The props in "Jack's" apartment were key - his wardrobe, car, office, etc. all are the perfect juxtaposition to the things which were in his family life. Well done. Otherwise, the color of the film felt washed. Lighting is oftentimes too hot and/or coming from obvious non-sunlit angles, but nothing that's going to make you lose sleep.
Kernel Factor
Honestly this movie deserves a remake. I've never said or thought that of another movie before (probably because I'm finally old enough to have watched a movie that could use a remake). Recast Nick Cage and I think you've got something. Okay, I'm sorry Nick, I'm done.