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The Family Man

Family Man title card

Year - 2000
Studio - Universal Pictures
Stars - Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven, Saul Rubinek, Josef Sommer, Have Presnell
Director - Brett Ratner
Writing Credits - David Diamond, David Weissman (screenplay)
Music - Danny Elfman


Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) is an aggressive, workaholic president of a Wall Street firm. He's a wealthy bachelor whose intimate relationships consist of one night stands in his penthouse. After working late into the night on Christmas eve, he stops at a market for some eggnog, where a customer becomes angry about a clerk's refusal to redeem his lottery ticket and angrily waves a gun. Jack defuses the situation by offering to buy the man's ticket. But, afterwards, as the two talk on the street, Jack brags to the man, Cash (Don Cheadle) that he "has everything". Cash looks at Jack oddly and says, "Remember, you brought this on yourself."

Jack wakes up the next morning, not in his penthouse, but in a house in New Jersey, in bed with a woman, Kate Reynolds (Téa Leoni) he'd loved thireteen years ago, but had not returned to after a one-year internship in London. To his complete confusion, she behaves as if there's nothing unusual about them being there together and are an old married couple. He dresses quickly and runs downstairs, where Kate's parents are just arriving for Christmas breakfast. Jack stares blankly at everyone, asks for the car keys, runs from the house in panic, and drives an old station wagon back to Manhattan.

Family Man poster

But the doorman at his apartment building, who he's known for years, doesn't recognize him and threatens to call the police. The same is true of the security guard at his office tower, and his name is no longer on the building directory.

As Jack walks outside in utter befuddlement, Cash pulls up beside him, driving Jack's Ferrari. He explains that Jack is being given a "glimpse" and will remain in that state "for as long as it takes", then speeds off.

Jack can only return to the New Jersey home, where he attempts to fit in with his "family" until his ordeal is over. He feels helpless in caring for the two young children, Annie (Makenzie Vega) and Josh (played by twins Josh and Ryan Milkovich). He learns that he is the sales manager at his father-in-law's Big Ed's (Harve Presnell) Tire Store. His relationships with Kate, and with their friends are, of course, awkward and confused. They don't understand why he is acting so strangely, and he, now stuck with a middle class salary, is desperate to return to his life of luxury and corporate power.

But, Jack slowly begins to respond to Kate's obvious love for him, and he develops a strong affection for the children (even though little Annie has intuited that he's an alien who has taken over her real father's body). He finds himself appreciating this new life of close family and friends, compared to his lonely bachelor existence. He believes he has solved the dilemma when he convinces his old company to hire him, based on his obvious knowledge of Wall Street dealings and business acumen. But when he proposes to Kate that they move back to the city and put the kids in expensive private schools, she defends their current life as being right for them, and Jack concurs.

Now settled comfortably in this new life, Jack again encounters Cash and realizes that it must end. Cash explains, "...a glimpse, by definition, is temporary." He tells a confused Kate to remember him as he is now and, when he next awakens, is back in his penthouse. He immediately rushes back to the New Jersey home, but it is occupied by strangers. When he tracks down Kate, she is a successful attorney in the process of moving to Paris, and barely acknowledges him.

He returns to his office to respond to a business crisis meeting in progress and announces he'll fly to Aspen to negotiate a deal. But, instead he hurries to the airport to find Kate about to board her flight to Paris. Again, she rebuffs him, but he passionately describes their happy life in New Jersey with their children. Kate begins to see something in Jack that intrigues her, and she doesn't get on the plane. They sit down for a long conversation in the airport coffee shop.

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