Thursday, 30 April 2009

Movie Review - The Family Man

The Family Man is a sweet film starring Nicholas Cage who, at the start of the film, is saying goodbye to his girlfriend Kate (Tia Leoni), who has grave misgivings about this trip to London he's going on. He dismisses her premonition that this is the beginning of the end for them – but she's right. He goes on to be a highly successful businessman and ha no time for family or other distractions.

Then, as so often happens in Hollywood but never in real life, he's given a chance to see what it would have been like if he'd done things differently. The difficulty is, he's put in his life that might have been with all the same attitudes that he had before – and has the confusion of not actually expecting to have been given this chance to see how different his life could have been. His welcome to the life of a family man – the sights, noises, and above all smells of parenthood – is not at all to his liking, and as things progress, he likes it even less. But of course he finds that married life, parenthood, and even a low-powered job have their advantages…

The Family Man is, at the end of the day, an above-average "what if?…" movie based around the same premise as many other films. Nicholas Cage is well suited to his role as a bewildered businessman who suddenly finds that he's not sure about anything anymore. Tia Leone is utterly beguiling as the woman in his life, and the fact that he only realises after a time just how beautiful she is was convincing, not least because I mentally had her down as an "average-pretty" woman and it slowly dawned on me that she is absolutely stunning (it's in the curvature of her smile and the twinkling in her eyes – I think!). Of course, she's not as beautiful as my wife – just thought I'd mention that. [Okay honey please stop twisting my arm behind my back…] I just want to make clear that I was under no duress just then, it was a statement made completely of my own free will. [No really, stop now, I can feel my bone cracking... ]

There are a lot of funny moments in this film, many of them stemming from the little girl who thinks that her daddy's been replaced by an alien. ("They did a pretty good job with your bangs".) It will probably be a bit too sentimental for some, though bravely it avoids having a sloppy ending. There are a couple of instances when the film's internal logic seems to break down but it's nothing too drastic. The cinematography's good but otherwise none of the technical aspects of the film rise above average – not that they're noticeably bad, they're just not noticeably good. The supporting cast (including Don Cheadle) all do their job ably enough.

Many films are touted as "feel-good" but this one actually manages to live up to that claim. It's got just about the right balance of realism and optimism to not seem too contrived, which considering it's basically a modern-day fairytale is no mean feat. I guess whether you'd enjoy watching it really boils down to whether you enjoy watching romantic comedies in general – if you do, you won't be disappointed with this, but if not, there's nothing about The Family Man that would make you enjoy it more than most others. A little bit more thought to the script and pacing, along with a better music score (it wasn't bad but certainly wasn't inspiring) and this could have made it onto my Top Ten Romantic Comedies list. As it stands, The Family Man is one of the better ones, but not one of the best.

No comments: