The Family Man

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The Family Man
Family man movie.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brett Ratner
Produced by
Written by
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Dante Spinotti
Edited by Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • December 22, 2000 (2000-12-22)
Running time
126 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[2]
Box office $124.7 million[2]

The Family Man is a 2000 American romantic comedy-drama film directed by Brett Ratner, written by David Diamond and David Weissman, and starring Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni. Cage's production company, Saturn Films, helped produce the film. The film centers on a man who sees what could have been if he had made a different decision 13 years prior.


Jack Campbell is a single Wall Street executive living in New York City. He is in the midst of putting together a multibillion-dollar merger and has ordered an emergency meeting on Christmas Day. In his office, on Christmas Eve, he hears that his former girlfriend, Kate, called him after many years, which he disregards, uninterested.

On the way home he walks into a convenience store where a lottery contestant, Cash, has a winning ticket worth $238. The store clerk does not believe Cash, so Cash pulls out a gun to threaten him and Jack offers to buy the ticket to prevent any violence. Jack offers to help Cash. In return, Cash questions Jack, asking him if he is missing anything in his life. Jack says he has everything he needs. Cash tells Jack that actions have consequences and that Jack has brought whatever is coming on himself. A puzzled Jack returns to his penthouse and sleeps.

On Christmas Day, Jack wakes up in a suburban New Jersey bedroom with Kate and two children. He hurries back to his office and condo in New York, but his closest friends do not recognize him. Jack runs out to the street and encounters Cash driving Jack's Ferrari. Cash is revealed to be a guardian angel. Cash explains that Jack is experiencing a glimpse of an alternate universe in order to learn a lesson. He advises Jack to take the time to learn whatever it is that he needs to learn.

Jack is living the life he could have had, had he stayed in the United States with his girlfriend. He has a modest family life, where he is a car tire salesman for Kate's father and Kate is a non-profit lawyer. Jack's young daughter realizes his secret, thinks he is an alien and decides to assist him in surviving his new life. Jack struggles to fit into the role of a family man, such as missing opening Christmas presents, flirting with a married woman and forgetting his anniversary. He begins to succeed in his life, bonding with his children, falling in love with his wife and working hard at his job.

At a chance meeting, he is offered a contract to work at the same investment firm from his real life, having impressed his former boss, Chairman Peter Lassiter, with his business savvy when Lassiter comes in for a tire change. His old mentor offers him a job, while formerly sycophantic Alan Mintz is in Jack's old position, with an assertiveness he did not possess as a subordinate. While he is wowed by the potential salary and other complimentary extreme luxuries, Kate argues that they are very happy and they should be thankful for their life.

Having finally realized the true value of his new life, Jack again sees Cash, now a store clerk. He demands to stay in this life, but Cash informs him there is no choice: a glimpse, by definition, is an impermanent thing. That night, Jack tries to stay awake, but fails and wakes the "next day" to find himself in his wealthy former life, on Christmas Day. He forgoes closing the acquisition deal to intercept Kate, finding her moving out of a luxury townhouse before flying to Paris. Like Jack, she has focused on her career and has become a very wealthy corporate lawyer. She had only called him to return a box of his old possessions. He chases after her to the airport and describes the family they had in the alternate universe in an effort to win back her love. She agrees to talk over a cup of coffee before making a decision. The credits begin to roll as they talk animatedly over the coffee.



Box office[edit]

The Family Man opened at #3 at the North American box office making $15.1 million in its opening weekend, behind What Women Want and Cast Away, which opened at the top spot.[3] After 15 weeks in release, the film grossed $75,793,305 in the US and Canada and $48,951,778 elsewhere, bringing the film's worldwide total to $124,745,083.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 53% based on 128 reviews, with an average rating of 5.5/10. The site's consensus states: "Despite good performances by Cage and especially by Leoni, The Family Man is too predictable and derivative to add anything new to the Christmas genre. Also, it sinks under its sentimentality".[4] Metacritic reports a 42 out of 100 rating based on 28 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[5]

Chris Gore from Film Threat said: "If you're looking for a heartfelt, feel-good holiday movie, just give in and enjoy". Matthew Turner from ViewLondon said: "Perfect feel-good Christmas-period family entertainment. Highly recommended."[6] Common Sense Media and Redbox both rate it 4 out of 5 stars.[citation needed] Movie rates it four of four stars, noting "The Family Man is a heart-rending movie. Very well written, it makes you laugh and cry. Better yet, it’s an intentionally moral movie. It wants to prove that everyone needs love..."[citation needed]


  1. ^ "THE FAMILY MAN (12)". British Board of Film Classification. December 5, 2000. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "The Family Man (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. April 5, 2001. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  3. ^ "The Family Man (2000) - Weekend Box Office Results - Box Office Mojo".
  4. ^ "The Family Man (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  5. ^ "The Family Man reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 11, 2015.
  6. ^ "Rotten Tomatoes". 22 December 2000.

External links[edit]