A Family Man (2000)

Film and Plot Synopsis

Jack Campbell is a wealthy and successful Wall Street executive who leads a single life with very few cares in the world. On Christmas Eve, he encounters a gun carrying street thug at a convenience store, and successfully deescalates a confrontation with the store owner. The thug is grateful and asks Jack if there is anything that is missing from his life to which Jack tells him that he has everything that he needs. The thug laughs and tells Jack that he asked for this. The next morning on Christmas, Jack awakes in a new life with a different job, a different house, two children, and his wife Kate, a woman who he left at an airport 13 years before. Jack struggles to adapt to his “new” life, but when he is forced to make a choice, which life will he want?

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‘A Family Man’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
A Family Man (2000)Young couple Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) and Kate Reynolds (Téa Leoni) are at JFK Airport in New York just as Jack is about to leave to take up a twelve-month internship with Barclays in London. Despite the couple being together since college, Kate is afraid that the physical separation from each other will lead to the end of their relationship and begs Jack not to go. Jack tries to reassure Kate and tells her that their love is strong enough to survive the months apart. Jack then flies to London.

Fast forward thirteen years and Jack is still single living an exceptionally carefree life as a Wall Street executive in New York. His current assignment is putting together a multi-billion-dollar merger. He calls an emergency meeting on Christmas Day to discuss the details. On Christmas Eve, Jack is in his office when he receives a message to contact Kate. Jack recalls Kate, but dismisses the message, more focused on the deal than the woman who was once the love of his life.

On his way home that night, Jack stops in a convenience store where a young, black man named Cash (Don Cheadle) is trying to claim a winning lottery ticket worth $238. The store clerk refuses to honor the lottery ticket and claims that it is a forgery. This angers Cash, so he pulls out a gun and threatens him. Jack tries to calm the situation down and offers to buy the ticket from Cash, which the young man agrees to. Once outside, Jack tries to help Cash, to which Cash responds by asking Jack if anything is missing from his life. Jack reassures the stranger that he has everything that he needs. Cash smiles and mysteriously remarks that Jack has brought upon himself what is going to happen and then walks away. Jack thinks little of the comment and returns to his penthouse and falls asleep.

The next day, on Christmas, Jack wakes up in a suburban New Jersey bedroom with Kate and two children. He has no memory of their time together. Jack immediately leaves the house and tries to get into his penthouse and his office in New York, but he is refused admittance by the two doormen who do not recognize him. Jack runs into the middle of the street and sees Cash driving Jack’s Ferrari. Jack asks Cash what is happening to him, and the mysterious man vaguely references “The Organization” and that Jack is getting a glimpse that will help him to figure out for himself what it’s all about.

Soon after, Jack begins to figure out that this new life is the kind of life that he might have had if he had stayed in New York with Kate years before just as she asked him to. In this new life, Jack is a mere car tire salesman for Kate’s father, Ed Reynolds (Harve Presnell). Kate works as a non-profit lawyer. The two of them barely make ends meet. They have two children, a daughter Annie (Makenzie Vega) and a son Josh (Jake and Ryan Milkovich). Annie thinks her father is an alien, but a friendly one, and assists Jack with fitting into his new life. Jack works hard to try and make things work. After a few setbacks, he begins to succeed. Jack bonds with the children that he didn’t know he even had and begins to fall back in love with Kate. Jack starts to even have some success at work as well.

One day, Jack’s former boss, Peter Lassiter (Josef Sommer) comes into have a tire blowout fixed. Jack takes advantage of the chance encounter to impress his former boss with his business savvy. Lassiter invites him to his office for an interview. Jack impresses Lassiter in the interview and offers Jack a position in the company that he used to work for in his former life. Jack is excited about the potential lucrative salary and various other perks. However, Kate is reluctant for Jack to make the change and argues that they are very happy and should be thankful for the life they have.

Jack is initially angry but realizes shortly afterwards that he likes his life with Kate. Jack runs into Cash again, who is now working as a store clerk. Jack tells the mysterious Cash that he wants to stay in his life with Kate. However, Cash tells him there is no choice, that he must return to his old life. A glimpse, by Cash’s definition, is an impermanent thing. That night, Jack tries to stay awake so that he does not revert to his old life, but he ultimately fails and wakes on the “next day” of his original life, Christmas Day.

Jack skips the meeting to close the multi-billion-dollar acquisition deal to find Kate. He discovers that she is moving out of her luxury townhouse before flying to Paris. This life’s Kate is just as focused as Jack on her career. She has made herself into an extremely wealthy corporate lawyer. Kate had called Jack and left the message at his office to return a box of his old things. Jack pursues her to the airport and tries to convince Kate not to leave, the reversal of their circumstances thirteen years before. Jack describes in detail their children and family life he had seen in his “new” life. His passion intrigues Kate, and she agrees to have coffee with him and delays her departure. The film ends with the couple talking over their coffees, hinting at a possible reconciliation.

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Universal Pictures released A Family Man on December 22, 2000. Brett Ratner directed the film starring Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni, and Don Cheadle.

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