Family Man
House Church Central Goes to the Movies

Universal Pictures, Beacon Pictures. Produced by Marc Abraham, Zvi Howard Rosenman, Tony Ludwig, and Alan Riche. Written by David Diamond and David weissman. Directed by Brett Ratner.

The Family Man has only one sentence of theology--bad theology at that--but presents an upbeat "simple life" theme that more than compensates. The one sentence? You'll find it early on, where an angel named Cash (Don Cheadle) tells the would-be family man Jack Campbell (Nicholas Cage) that his situation was the result of good works that he performed the previous evening:

Cash: "The way you intervened in that store last night? I mean, it was incredibly impressive all the way across the board...
Jack: Oh God...
Cash: " the upper echelons of the organization."

Is this is an update to the prelude to Job? If so, the parallel breaks down quickly because Job was not warned in advance about what was happening to him. But, like Job, Jack suddenly finds that all of the wealth, prestige, and perquisites of his lucrative vocation have been taken away. His licentious, single lifestyle is gone too, and he awakens on Christmas morning to find himself married to his former girlfriend, Kate (Tea Leoni) in a hectic household filled with two delightful kids and a dog.

Through this contrivance, the movie gives Jack an opportunity to re-live a critical part of his life in a different way. Thirteen years ago, he had said "no" to Kate and they had each gone on to live comfortable, single lives. Through heavenly intervention, he now has a glimpse of how his life would have gone had he said "yes." The payoff of the film, of course, is that Jack sees that his original choice was wrong and that he was far happier as a "family man" than with the all the money, one-night stands, and prestige.

The producers of this film characterize Jack's choice as between "wealth" and "love," love winning the upper hand. Fair enough. But I think the movie holds more. The life of wealth, comfort, and license is the ideal of the world. The life of family relationship and faithfulness is the "simple life" of Ecclesiastes and the New Testament witness. And it is with that understanding that I recommend the viewing of this film by believers.

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