Family Man (2000)

FAMILY MAN, which opens in another week or two, is a very watchable 
if increasingly uneventful blending of, oh, TRADING PLACES and IT'S 
A WONDERFUL LIFE, with Nicholas Cage as a high-paid, high-living, 
bachelor president of a Manhattan brokerage firm, who awakens one 
late-working Christmas morning to find himself middle-class married 
(with kids) to the college sweetheart (Tea Leoni) he "lost" when he 
moved to London for a year, years ago.  (And which is depicted oh-
so-effectively in the film's concise, chick-friendly, airport pro-
logue.)  Confusion ensues, with Cage's character-- who has obvious-
ly never seen either Mr. Landis' or Mr. Capra's films-- exasperat-
ingly enduring such "culture shocks" as beer buddies, bowling 
leagues, and one severely poo-ed pair of dirty diapers.  (The aud-
ience "ewe" during said sequence is as priceless as the actor's 
reaction.)  Initially, much of it LOL, 'cause no one wears a wig- 
out quite as well as Cage.  Wish he were a better double-taker, 
tho.  With, say, more-frantic eye movements or more-exaggerated 
facial expressions, instead of the now-trademark glum he totes 
through too many scenes.  (Even a little of Dan Aykroyd's prissy-
ness from TRADING PLACES would be welcome here.  "'Hot?' Do you 
mean to imply stolen?".)  

The generous comic potential of the film is further undermined by 
the story's sudden plunge at the start.  We're hardly shown *any* 
of Cage's characters posh, prior life, so it's all the more diffi-
cult to relate to his aghastliness.  (Well, at least for us members 
of the Great Unwashed...)  Heck, he doesn't even seem particularly 
unhappy for a supposed Scrooge-in-training.  Does he even *need* a 
"happy ever after?"?  At least the whole thing stays imminently 
watchable, thanks to Cage's star presence, his excellent (and bona-
fide babe-o-licious) opposing player, and one heck of a strong sup-
porting cast.  Ol' Harve Presnell's here, wearing a cowboy hat and 
talkin' with a Texas twang.  Mary Beth Hurt, too, looking twice her 
size and wearing *the* most unflattering business suite imaginable.  
Don Cheadle, as well.  He's the angel (I think) and first appears 
during a head-scratching convenience story robbery slash charitable 
conversation.  Huh?  Mind you, the entire *story* doesn't make much 
sense.  Dramatic sense.  Once the laughs begin to peter out, there 
ain't a compelling reason to keep watching.  We haven't been shown 
a problem that needs fixing, per se, so there's no inherent curio-
sity about either Cage's character or the story's outcome.  Sure, 
he and Leoni have great chemistry, but to what end-effect?  Neither 
my companion nor I could see the point.  We opted out at an hour-
fifteen.  Humbug.  

Grade: W/O

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros