Picture George Bailey in ‘The Twilight Zone!’” That had to be the pitch line at the story conference when this film first sprang to life. There is a difference, however. While the protagonist from “It’s A Wonderful Life” is shown the merit of his present life, Cage’s Jack Campbell discovers that his current direction is not as meaningful as the one he should have chosen. Rather than stay home and marry his one true love, our hero decided to pursue a high-profile career overseas. Many years later, and with much success and hedonism under his belt, a new-age angel appears out of the blue and decides it’s time that Jack had a glimpse of what might have been. The film’s message: Family life is more important than financial success. That’s a pretty important message for our BMW-obsessed generation. And who better than Nick Cage to remind us? While his screen persona is often that of a droopy-eyed Neanderthal, still, he’s nearly as likeable as James Stewart. He’s sincere and he’s a charmer. And so is his co-star, the definitely non-Neanderthal Tea Leoni. They’re the kind of movie stars we wished lived next door. Not only do they strike me as celebrities that would loan you a cup of sugar, but most likely, they’d also offer up a great recipe for its use.
Coupled with a fantasy-friendly script and a nice selection of supporting players, director Brett Ratner has placed the season’s best holiday treat at the steps of the local cinema just in time for the holiday crowd. It’s a feel-good film decked-out with holly and ivy. Unfortunately, like most films of this new millennium, “The Family Man” is dominated by a humanistic view as bent on separating God from entertainment as our courts are church from state. So don’t look for any inference to God’s will for our lives in this movie. The film’s angel seems more a representative of Rod Serling than the Lord Jehovah. The only reference to the Almighty comes in the form of a profanity. As for the Son of God, His name is used as a mere expletive on four separate occasions. Even in a romantic comedy, today’s filmmakers cannot refrain from misusing God’s name. Has profanity become a fixture in screen dialogue? Like the omnipresence of rap music when you enter a Sam Goody, I fear profane speech in the movies is here to stay.