So here it is. My heart on my sleeve. A movie I have watched over and over and am embarrassed to confess to. What makes The Family Man, a descendant of It's a Wonderful Life, so good in my opinion?
Firstly, I am a sucker for the
what ifscenario. Especially, the what if you had another chance to do your life over. You know, the Robert Frost road not taken. It's something I've wasted a lot of time on myself. I can dream can't I?
Then, there's the angel thing. In this case, played solidly by award-winning actor Don Cheadle. It's a small part, but as the saying goes, there are no small parts and Cheadle proves that. (As does Mary Beth Hurt as the secretary who totally steals every scene she's in with her snappy delivery and timing.) Cheadle plays a very interesting interpretation of the angel archetype.
Of course, we have the likeable Nicolas Cage as Jack and Tea Leoni as Kate in the leads, and Jeremy Pivan as the sidekick. All are wonderful in their roles. If you happen to be a Cage fan, the early scene with him getting dressed and singing opera is a must see. And child actress Makenzie Vega is almost too adorable.
It is a moralistic film, certainly. The message being, love and family win out over power and money, and these are mutually exclusive. Well maybe that isn't true in the real world. Maybe it is equally likely rich folks have will have rich family lives as it is middle class folks will. I wouldn't know. But I totally buy into the gooshy idea that love is worth whatever sacrifice it takes to obtain it and keep it. If you think I am a corny sentimental fool you are right. I wasn't always this way as my college friends can tell you. But life experience, to the contrary mind you, has made a romantic out of me.
I like the ending of this film. Without giving too much away, I'll tell you it isn't happy exactly, but it leaves the door open to the possibility of happiness and that as a viewer makes me happy.
One final note. I have to say, if Kate hadn't worn such an ugly coat to the airport in the very beginning, she might have won her plea, and the whole film would be unnecessary. But that coat was very easy to walk away from.