Saturday, January 28, 2012
Movie Review: The Family Man (2000)
A modern Christmas fairytale, The Family Man is a fable about what matters in life. Presenting a stark contrast between material wealth and a loving family, there is no doubting where the film's heart resides, but two excellent central performances and a sharp script collaborate to elevate the simple story into a charming experience.
Thirteen years later, Campbell is an extremely wealthy New York mergers and acquisitions executive, living the dream bachelor life in a sleek apartment. Campbell believes he has everything he needs in life, including a Ferrari and gorgeous bed partners, but otherwise his life is his work: he forces his team to work on Christmas Eve and calls a meeting on Christmas Day. An unexpected phone message from Kate and a surreal encounter with a burglar (Don Cheadle) trigger a timeshift in Jack's life: he is transported to a messy New Jersey home, and gets to experience the alternate destiny that he abandoned at the airport: married to Kate, he works as a tire salesman and they have two kids and a big dog, living the prototypical suburban life with a mortgage and a minivan. Jack needs to learn to survive in his new surroundings while recalibrating the value of his life's decisions.
Director Kevin Ratner sprinkles just a bit of fairy dust on The Family Man, enough to provide the occasional reminder that Christmas is the time for life's magical contemplations. A bicycle's jingly bell, snow flakes at key moments, and serendipitous encounters flutter in and out of Jack's life as he gradually learns that his wealthy corporate life is, in fact, desolate. Ratner delivers a stunning punctuation mark when Jack returns to his apartment after living the lovingly cluttered New Jersey life: the same condominium that was stylish and expensive now just looks bleak and bare.
The Family Man mixes a warm-heart with gentle humour. It may be a tad predictable, but it carries a lovingly tinged message worth reliving.
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