Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It Might Have Been a More Wonderful Life...
On the twenty-seventh Lynchian day of Christmas, we present Brett Ratner's Christmas drama The Family Man (2000). David Lynch frequently focuses his camera's lens on a young man's transitional period from youth into adulthood, particularly when first confronting parenthood. In fact, ten years previous to starring in The Family Man, Nicolas Cage starred as Lynch's struggling ex-con "manslaughterer without parental guidance" Sailor Ripley in Wild at Heart (1990). In the course of the film, Sailor discovers he impregnated his girlfriend Lula Fortune (Laura Dern) and struggles to grow into his new role as a protector and provider for his new family.
If we go back even further to David Lynch's first feature film Eraserhead (1977), we descend into the nightmare of Henry Spencer (Jack Nance) as he confronts an unwanted pregnancy and shotgun marriage. Henry wrestles with conflicted feelings over the pleasures and consequences of sexual indulgence, and struggles with new concepts of fidelity as he encounters temptation from a neighbor woman. Henry is also tormented by guilt for feeling like an inadequate father and reaches a crisis of identity. The Family Man is surprisingly similar in plot, but conveys that essential story within the constraints of a family friendly Christmas film.
High-powered executive Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) feels satisfied with his job, wealth, and non-committal relationships with women. But one Christmas Eve Jack crosses the path of an angel (Don Cheadle), who grants Jack a special view of what his life would have been if he had remained in a committed relationship with his college girlfriend Kate Reynolds (Téa Leoni). Once transported into this alternative world, Jack struggles to integrate himself into a family lifestyle and rebels against these new constraints by attempting to find happiness again the same way he does in his real life.
Jack is about to explode from frustration and angst, but finds a calming and restraining influence with his fellow married friend Arnie (Jeremy Piven). Arnie helps talk Jack off the ledge, counseling him not to destroy the best things in his life for temporary thrills and luxurious frills. After some an extremely difficult transition period, Jack begins to discover the delights of a stable marriage and the unexpected joys of fatherhood. Jack discovers even someone who is wild at heart can choose lasting happiness.

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