Reviewed by Stuart Whitmore:
A Capraesque winter warmer, mixed from equal parts It’s a Wonderful Life and A
Christmas Carol, The Family Man should be too sickly sweet a confection for these cynical
times—much like the Christmas eggnog Cage’s character is partial too. Instead
it’s a well tuned rom com that balances classical leanings with contemporary attitude
without making either feel forced.
With nothing new in the "look at what you could have won" concept, a good
script, steady direction and solid performances were needed to make The Family Man worth
watching, and it has all three. Cage is equally loveable as a driven single man or
sweater-wearing suburbanite, reprising the two-faced role, one contented, one conceited,
he played so well in Face/Off. But Leoni is the real revelation, her usual frosty
demeanour melting away for the role of Kate. It’s a vital part. For the film to work
the audience must find Kate adorable enough to believe Jack would give up his old life for
her. Leoni is so convincing, the only wonder is why he left her in the first place.
Three audio commentaries are probably more than you need for fare such as this, but
Ratner is nicely effusive in his, showing all the childish excitement for the film that
got him the gig in the first place, and it’s always interesting to get into the head
of a great composer such as Danny Elfman, here shedding his Gothic tendencies for a
classic score. There’s also plenty more padding to flick through, including some
classic Cage moments in the out-takes. All in all a nice surprise and a perfect movie to
add to your Christmas Day playlist.
Published December 27, 2001