24 movies Guaranteed to make you feel Christmassy

December 2nd - The Family Man

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Year : 2000

Director: Brett Ratner.

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle.

The Family Man

The missing link between Its A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol.

The story surrounds Jack Campbell, and commences with him at the airport about to set off to London to begin his business career. His girlfriend Kate, asks him to forget his career in order that they can be together. Jack leaves Kate standing there with the promise that he will return for her in 12 months. We next pick up the story 13 years later to the present where Jack is now a career minded singleton and a powerful Wall Street executive who his brow beating his staff into work through Christmas to conclude a merger deal. A couple of strange things happen, he is advised by his secretary that Kate (who he hasn't spoken to or thought about in many years) had rung in to speak to him, then he has a odd discussion with a street punk which ends in Jack telling the punk that "I have everything I have ever wanted" to which the punk laughs. He returns home to his plush New York penthouse bachelor pad and goes to sleep. Waking up the next morning (Christmas morning) he finds himself in bed with his old girlfriend Kate, in a cramped and cluttered New Jersey bedroom, with a baby crying in the next room and another child calling him daddy. Worse still he doesn't drive a Ferrari anymore but instead has a mini van. Unsure what has happened he tries to return to his old life but finds that no one from the apartment where he lived and the offices where he worked know who he is. He bumps into the street punk again who explains this is just a glimpse (of what would have happened had he not left for London all those years ago). Jack goes back to his new life and job (as a tire salesman) not knowing how long the glimpse will last. He gradually falls for Kate all over gain and starts to bond with the children - but he is afraid that he will be transported back to his old life.

A bit of genius going on here - mash up two perennial Christmas classics - Its A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol, to come up with a superb Kapraesque contemporary movie. Being a contemporary movie they wisely chose to leave out the more overly sentimental aspects often employed within the genre, choosing instead to concentrate on a deeper and more interesting seem of the relative value of wealth - i.e. money can't buy you happiness. A kind of obvious sentiment that is apparent to even the most ardent capitalist, but its a Christmas film so we can afford to overlook some of the easy answers that it has to portray. The story is skillfully put together and, aside from Leaving Las Vegas, Cage puts in the performance of his career. The Family Man is a movie well worth watching - especially if you are a fan of the classic Christmas movies of the past.

The Family Man is placed at December 2nd on our Films guaranteed to make you feel Christmassy (UK edition).

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