Film: The Family Man

The Family Man is a 2000 "What If?" film starring Nicolas Cage, Tea Leoni and Don Cheadle in which Cage plays Jack Campbell, a wealthy Wall Street executive who hears from his old college girlfriend and wonders what might have been. He has a fateful meeting with a man who magically sends him to an Alternate Universe where he married his college girlfriend.

The film is similar to It's a Wonderful Life because it starts on Christmas Eve. Moreover, by the end, Jack learns that living a quiet happy family life is preferable to achieving success and wealth at work.

Not to be confused with the Family Guy.


This film includes examples of:

  • Ambition Is Evil
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends at an airport.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Jack Campbell's boss kinda comes across as much, he even jokes about the idea.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Jack Campbell.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Subverted by the end of the film.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Figure It Out Yourself: Cash dumps Jack into an alternate life with no information whatsoever about his life, job, etc. So Kate thinks right away that Jack is acting horribly when he forgets their anniversary, doesn't know how to communicate with her, etc. Part of it is that Jack just wants to get back to his own life (initially), but it also stems from the fact he simply doesn't know anything about this new life.
  • For Want of a Nail: The entire meaning of Jack's alternate life, or glimpse.
  • Genre Savvy: Annie knows right away that this Jack isn't really her father, since he seems confused by everything.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Jack, though he wasn't a really evil guy to begin with.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: An Inversion.
  • Lonely at the Top: Jack's life after moving to London in 1987.
  • Magical Negro: Cash.
  • Married to the Job
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Annie thinks Jack is an alien who has taken the place of her real father. Jack runs with it so she will help him assimilate to his new life.
    Annie: Welcome to Earth.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tea Leoni's shower scene. Doubles as a CMoF when Jack is taken aback by seeing her nude.
  • Opinion-Changing Dream
  • Precision F-Strike: During Arnie's What the Hell, Hero? scene.
  • The Scrooge: Jack Campbell, before he got better.
  • Smug Snake: The alternate version of Alan Mintz.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jack gets one from his alternate-universe buddy Arnie when Jack wants to have a fling with another woman coming onto him (Jack thinks this is OK because this isn't his life, so Kate isn't really his wife). Arnie reminds him how much all of his friends are envious that Jack is happily married to someone like Kate and that he shouldn't "fuck up" the best thing to ever happen to him.