In this movie, Nicholas Cage says goodbye to his girlfriend (Kate) at the airport. He is going to London for a job. We next see him years later as a successful head of a large corporation, unmarried and basically involved in one-night stands. We are later to find out that when Cage went to London, he forgot about Kate and she went her own way, never to be heard from again.
Cage is on the way home from the office during a snow-storm and thwarts a robbery. The audience expects the robber to shoot cage but instead Cage seems to convince the robber that he would be a better man if he didn't shoot Cage. It turns out that the robber is not really a robber but a type of Angel (similar to Clarence in It's a Wonderful Life) who will give Cage a glimpse of what life would be like if he hadn't stayed in London but instead came back and married Kate.
Cage goes to sleep in his luxury apartment and wakes up the next morning in a bed with an older Kate. Cage slowly learns that he is really a married man with a family and instead of a big time corporate president, he is a tire salesman in his father-in-law's store.
There are several hilarious scenes and some very touching ones. His "new" life looks like a nightmare at first turns out to be the life he will eventually prefer (Some of this is reminiscent of Goldie Hawn in Overboard). Only until he realizes this, he will not be returned to his prior life by the Angel.
The director does a great job in giving us an ending that is different than what you seem to expect. I won't say what but I think it was well done.
One thing that is not explored is that when Cage's glimpsed life finishes, he will lose his two children from that glimpsed life. The director never touches on Cage's feelings about that, unlike the novel Replay where the main character is torn apart because a child he had in an alternate life no longer exists when he is in a different reality.
The movie is well cast and Don Cheadle is excellent as the "angel."
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Carp all you want about this derivative premise, with its marginal stereotypes and biased embrace of domestic bliss and dirty diapers. The simple fact is, The Family Man works like a charm. Under the assured direction of Brett Ratner (Rush Hour), this holiday crowd-pleaser offers comedy and chemistry in equal measure, making the hilarity of Jack's predicament a smooth catalyst for that rarest of movie romances: the marital love story. Leoni is Cage's perfect match as Jack's idealized but imperfect wife, and the movie's appeal largely derives from its awareness that any life has its pleasures and pains. While it only flirts with the dark desperation that makes It's a ...