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Leoni Online: The Articles — The Family Man DVD Review

The Family Man

A surprisingly good film gets an even better DVD.

by Nick Nunziata

Movie Score: 8
The Movie: Somehow, this is a GOOD sappy film.
Video Score: 9
The Video: Awesome.
Audio Score: 9
The Audio: Awesome.
Extras Score: 9
The Extras: Stacked like a Vegas showgirl.



I wanted to hate this movie. It had all the ingredients for failure…

1. Nic Cage has had a VERY spotty track record since winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas and minting box office gold in The Rock.

2. Brett Ratner’s made two fun films (Money Talks and Rush Hour) but wasn’t exactly primed for a big family film.

3. The ads certainly evoked Frank Capra, but only a lot. Well, after seeing the film in a surprise sneak last fall I was proven wrong. I liked the film quite a bit and fell hook, line, and sinker for just about the whole film. I wasn’t the only one, as the film defied the odds and managed to pull in just under 80 million dollars at the turnstiles.

The Movie


Cage is Jack Crawford, a man who made a decision in the past that has changed two lives. His, and the woman he loves (Tea Leoni).


“Wait… you didn’t see TRAFFIC?”

A fateful decision to choose career over love has resulted in a very prolific life for Jack, one where Ferraris, nonstop business dealings, and sex with people that look like Amber Valetta is the norm. Yet something’s missing.


A woman like this can make a man cheetah on his wife.

Faster than you can say “Choose Your Own Adventure”, Jack is given a glimpse (by an angelic Don Cheadle of all things) of the life he could have had. A life of diaper changing, bowling alleys, Tire selling, and MARRIAGE.


What makes the film click is not where it goes, since we mostly know what kind of film it is. What makes it work is that it’s populated with special people. All of them. Cage’s character may be a hard nosed Wall Street type but he has heart and he’s a good guy. Leoni’s character is an angel of a woman. Filled with love and the kind of mother and wife we all deserve.


2 frames before her head split open and James Spader crawled out.

In addition, the friends, families, and co-workers all round out the ensemble and it’s a very warm and loving group. From Jeremy Piven’s down-to-Earth buddy character to Cheadle’s tour guide to “what if” to the cute, lisping daughter Crawford never had… they’re all rather special.


Nic Cage sees what Fox Mulder sees every day.

Sometimes it’s good to get a little swept away in a love story like this. Yes, it echoes tales like It’s a Wonderful Life and even A Christmas Carol, but it’s one of those unabashedly romantic films that just works despite all the strikes against it.


Amber Valetta. Built like a Shrick Brithouse.

It’s funny, it’s sad, it’s smart, and it’s a surprisingly good mainstream film. Give it a shot.


8 out of 10

The Video

Universal knows how to do a special edition. This film is crisp as they get. While it bounces from the snowy electric streets of the city to the muted plaids of suburbia, it excels. Ratner’s actually got quite a way with his eye and the film is rather nicely shot. The Anamorphic widescreen transfer lives up to the task and is one you’ll have trouble finding fault with.


Jeremy Piven discovers the downside of Olestra in potato chips.

9 out of 10

The Audio


Thank God Cage’s chest birthmark didn’t read: Peter Strauss!

Dolby 5.1? CHECK. DTS? CHECK. 2.0? CHECK. The audio features of this disc (we’ll get to the commentary tracks in a few…) are outstanding. While I’m not a big fan of Danny Elfman, this audio presentation is ROCK SOLID and whether you need thunder (or the purr of a Ferarri) or subtlety (the sound of Tea Leoni naked in the shower in the next room), this one delivers. As far as dramedies go, this one’s among the best to listen to on DVD.

9 out of 10

The Extras


– ‘Spotlight on Location’

This is a short but nice featurette with interview with the filmmakers and cast that’ll give you an idea on the passion and overall nuttiness of Brett Ratner as well as the trial to get this film to screens. Good stuff.

– Commentary with Brett Ratner & writers David Diamond and David Weissman

A really good track that tells how they got Cage to star, what aspects of the film were added and dropped, scenes that were cut, and the overall process. Fun, and it’s obvious Ratner’s a huge DVD geek. He also seems proud of his former relationship with Rebecca Gayheart because he brings it up tons of times (but who wouldn’t?).

– Commentary with producer Marc Abraham

This guy knows the biz, and while his comments on the featurette led me to think he’s an oily Hollywood type, the personal audience with him illuminates a great deal.

– Commentary and isolated score with Danny Elfman (composer)

Threadbare. There are huge silences without music or comments from Elfman and if you look away it’ll scare the pants off you when it finally does come to life. Decent, but he should have filled the space.

– Deleted Scenes

Good stuff that should have been kept, especially an extension of a scene where Cage confronts Saul Rubinek about how he plans to steal his job from him.

– Outtakes

Primarily Jeremy Piven making Nic Cage laugh. Good!

– “Hi Jack” montage

Essentially a clip of all the times people address Nic Cage’s character. Cute, but not rewatchable.

– Seal music video

If it’s your cup o’ tea, enjoy!

– Choose your fate game

Similar to the film’s website. Cute.

– DVD ROM stuff

In summation, it’s loaded and the kind of DVD that’ll keep you busy for a long time. This is a warm film that’ll get some spins around the holidays. Grab your date and enjoy!