Making the Grades
Putting family values on the marquee, Nicholas Cage plays Jack Campbell, a Wall Street tycoon who decided 13 years earlier to postpone a relationship with his college sweetheart Kate (Tea Leoni) in favor of pursuing his career and "renting" a woman whenever he needs one. With over a decade of silence between them, Kate leaves a message with his office on Christmas Eve, but the Scrooge-like Jack is too busy closing a multi-billion dollar deal to return her call.
On his way home Jack encounters a gun-toting thief. Offering money to defuse the situation, Jack brags that he has everything he could want in life. The thief cautions his bravado, and tells him his life is about to change. Left walking home alone, the warning doesn't prepare Jack for the shock of waking up in bed next to Kate on Christmas morning.
Finding himself in New Jersey suburbia, apparently married to Kate for several years and father of two children, is as confusing to Jack as his strange behavior is to his family. Discovering he is only a tire salesman makes his new life feel like a prison sentence, until Jack begins to appreciate the simple joys of having adoring children and a loving, devoted wife.
Yet within this positive story the writers have chosen to use profanities, terms of Deity, and a sexual expletive. Sexual content also includes obscured nudity such as a back shot of one of Jack's girlfriends wearing only panties, a front view of the same woman in lingerie, and the clearly identifiable bodily form of Tea Leoni through a misty shower door. The shower scene does occur within a married context (as does other sexual innuendo), but I (like the rest of the audience) am not married to Tea! As well, a flirtatious neighbor invites Jack to have an affair.
The Family Man looks at what could have been if you had made a different choice, much like the film It's A Wonderful Life . While I applaud the portrayal of marriage and family as better investments than fame and fortune, parents may not feel comfortable leaving their children with this Family Man.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Family Man.
Just when Jack is becoming comfortable with his new life working as a tire salesman, he has an opportunity to begin working for his old company again and to make more money. However, what he perceives as beneficial for their family meets with a negative reaction from his wife. Do you think money and prestige were part of the motive for getting this job? Does having more money always improve a family?
Can you think of seemingly small decisions that may have affected your life in a major way? Is it possible to completely reverse an earlier choice? If you can’t go back does that mean it’s too late to try and change your life?