By Alan Scherstuhl
By Amy Nicholson
By Charles Taylor
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Brian Feinzimer
By CAROLINA DEL BUSTO
By AMY NICHOLSON
By Amy Nicholson
Patient: The Family Man
Profile: Romantic comedy that attempts to be It's a Wonderful Life in reverse. Main character Jack follows his career dreams, but through the help (read: cruel meddling) of an angel, he is given a glimpse of what life would've been like if he'd married his college sweetheart.
Symptoms: Illogical script that lacks support. For all we're shown, Jack made the proper choice in pursuing his career. He is happy at his high-power, high-income job. He has passion and enthusiasm, and the fact that he makes millions does not seem to have diminished his humanity. Why should things be different? Just because God thinks everyone should be married? We're supposed to believe that everything would have been great because as Jack and his temporary wife are about to have sex—after 13 years of marriage, his wife is excited about having sex . . . please—he looks at her with wonder. She says something like, "How can you look at me as if you haven't been looking at me every day for 13 years?" The point is he hasn't! If he had, he wouldn't.
Diagnosis: Popular with antsy girlfriends and anxious people eager to be assured they made the right choice even though, deep within, they know otherwise. But for a man who watches it at a mall with his two kids because his wife is home sick, coughing up phlegm, and who has to get 40 bucks out of the ATM to get his kids something to eat at the food court and finds out he has $47.52 left in his checking account, I can assure you, this film does not ring true.
Prescription: Let's see more about that career-driven, well-ordered, non-AYSO life. Perhaps God, in his mercy, intervenes to help some poor wretch stuck in a dead-end job, unappreciated by his wife and ill-fed children, to escape that life and become the man he was intended to be—perhaps curing disease, alleviating pain and, you know, getting a lot of commitment-free action. Even adults love fairy tales.
Prognosis: My version would be a giant hit with men 28 and older. New title: The I Can Do Whatever I Want Whenever I Want Man. Celine Dion-sung theme song, "Don't Worry, The Maid'll Get It," goes triple platinum.