The Family Man is a 2000 comedy-drama film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni. Cage produced the film under his Saturn Films production company.
The film centers on a man, who sees what could have been had he made a different decision thirteen years ago. It is similar to It's a Wonderful Life in that it begins on Christmas Eve with a life-and-death situation, involving a supernatural being, who tries to convince the main character into taking an earnest look at his life. Moreover, in the end, the protagonists in both movies conclude that living a quiet family life is preferable to achieving success and wealth at work.
The film has also been compared to Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol in that the protagonist is a greedy man who cares little about anyone except himself and then has his life outlook completely changed after a series of real-life "what if?" experiences.
Jack Campbell is a single, wealthy Wall Street mergers and acquisitions (M&A) executive living the high life in New York City. In his office at Christmas Eve, he is surprised to hear that his former girlfriend, Kate, tried to call him after many years. That night after work, he walks into a convenience store where a lottery contestant, "Cash", barges in saying that he has a winning ticket. The store clerk believes that Cash is lying and refuses to give him his winnings. Cash pulls out a gun and is about to shoot the clerk before Jack offers to buy the ticket from him, thus averting disaster. He and Cash settle their "business deal" outside and he arrogantly offers to help Cash before going to sleep in his penthouse.
The next morning, on Christmas Day, Jack wakes up in a suburban New Jersey bedroom with Kate and two children. Shocked and confused, he hurries back to his office and condo in New York, but not even his closest friends recognize him. Confused, Jack runs out to the street and encounters Cash, who is driving Jack's Ferrari. Cash explains that Jack is in an alternate universe in order to learn a lesson.
Jack realizes that he is living the life he could have had if he had not gone to London and become an investment banker but had stayed in the United States with his girlfriend. He instead has a modest family life, where he is a tire salesman and Kate is a non-profit lawyer. Jack struggles to fit into the role of a family man, making many serious blunders such as missing opening Christmas presents, flirting with a married woman, and forgetting his anniversary. Very soon, Jack's young "daughter" realizes his secret and decides to assist him in surviving his new life. He begins to succeed in his life, bonding with his "children," falling in love with his wife and working hard at his dull job.
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