the family man(2000)
director: brett ratner
nicholas cage, tea leoni, don cheadle

. If there was an Oscar for recycling cliches, The Family Man would rule the field. It might be a bit much to expect an unsentimental, or even a vaguely original take, on Christmas, but The Family Man seems to aspire to the ranks of holiday classics mostly by absorbing the salient traits of the competition. It’s a premise almost worthy of science fiction.

Nicholas Cage plays a modern-day Scrooge, a sabre-toothed Wall Street money machine and loveless swinging bachelor who thinks nothing of asking his staff of Bob Cratchits to work on Christmas Day. An encounter with a heavenly emissary, played by Don Cheadle, yanks him from his Manhattan penthouse to a less-glamorous life in New Jersey, as a tire salesman with two kids, married to the college sweetheart he dumped years before -- imagine It’s a Wonderful Life, with shades of The Bishop’s Wife

An adorable muppet of a daughter is a descendant of the wise child from Miracle on 54th Street, and we’re expected to sit back as Cage has his ambition stripped away and replaced with appropriate reverence for the sainted banalities of family life. It’s probably the kind of film we’ll see more of if Hollywood is sincere about its promises to make more “responsible” movies. If anything, it’s a creatively economical move, since the cost in original ideas is, as far as The Family Man indicates, virtually zero.