If you’re trying to find a holiday movie, but you’ve seen ’em all a hundred times, try one I saw for the first time last night – “Family Man” starring Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni. OK, OK, most folks have probably already seen this Y2K movie, but I’m a bit behind on me cinema surfing! If you’ve seen it before, see it again. If you’ve not seen it – see it! [NOTE: this article contains “spoilers” that reveal the plot of the movie!]
And if you’re feeling trapped by your family and your life – definitely see it! Cage plays an ultra successful Wall Street tycoon who, through a very “Wonderful Life” encounter, is allowed a glimpse of what life would have been like if he’d married his college sweetheart and followed the suburbia/family/mini van path. Cage and Leoni are – IMHO – utterly perfect in their portrayal of a confused, struggling, settled, happy married couple.
The story, though, is the thing that recommends this movie. Cage’s character, Jack, is presented with an in-your-face comparison of two kinds of success: worldly and family. He falls into a marriage that is the envy of all their neighbors and friends, yet is the exact opposite of everything he’s ever dreamed of. The focal point of the movie is how a perfect life can seem horrid if you aren’t willing to see the perfection. Major points:
• Fidelity: Jack’s best friend tells him, “A little flirtation is harmless but you’re dealing with fire here. The fidelity bank and trust is a tough creditor. You make a deposit somewhere else, they close your account – FOREVER.” Message: cheating is not some casual decision. It will change and ruin your life.
• Love is sexy: Just when Jack and his wife are about make love, she says, “Say it to me, Jack!” He blurts out something he thinks is sexy (“You’re a bad girl, you make me hot.”) but finds out later that what really turns his wife on is his telling her that he loves her. Nothing else makes her want him as much.
• Perfection is relevant: When given the opportunity to return to his wealthy, hedonistic, bachelor’s paradise lifestyle, Jack comes to understand what’s important: “I have kids! I’m going home!” And the overriding theme of the movie: “I choose us.“
[NOTE: parental advisory: Rated PG-13 for married sensuality and some very strong language.]