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Volume 3, Issue 2                                    University of Houston

'The Family Man' a mediocre film at best; 'Where's My Car?' promises to be good, but fails horribly

The Family Man

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Téa Leoni
Universal Pictures
Rated: PG-13

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Breaking News Staff

The studios have coordinated a film about family with the time of year when loved ones matter the most. Isn't that sweet?

Too bad the film has that message, but not the wholesome grasp of a really good film.

Nicolas Cage (Gone in 60 Seconds) stars as Jack Campbell, who 13 years earlier, leaves for London to pursue a scholarship while promising his then-girlfriend, portrayed by Téa Leoni, he would only be gone for a year. He, however, never returns.

Now Jack is a single, rich businessman in the heart of Wall Street. On the night of Christmas Eve, Jack is asked about his values in life. He simply replies, "I've everything I've ever wanted."

This leads into the pool of what-ifs, almost similar to Sliding Doors. Jack goes to sleep and wakes up in the life he would have had if he had come back to his girlfriend.

Merrick Morton/Universal Pictures

Nicolas Cage and Téa Leoni star in the feel-good drama/comedy The Family Man.

He finds himself a husband and a father, married to his sweetheart, living in the suburbs and working in a tire company. Jack the businessman has become Jack the family man.

Everything else beyond this point becomes predictable.

This isn't a problem, because it's inevitable in a film like this. This is another feel-good film that wraps up in a happy ending.

Perhaps it is the content of the film itself that doesn't sell very well. There are a few funny and predictable scenes, but they are dragged out and, unfortunately, become repetitive.

Jack struggles in the life of a typical middle-aged man and these conflicts repeat themselves, one after another, to the point where it is no longer fascinating to see this guy suddenly facing a new lifestyle.

Director Brett Ratner, whose recent works include Rush Hour and Madonna's music video, "Beautiful Stranger," does a decent job in maintaining the almost-family style that makes the film an all-emotional, feel-good package.

Cage's performance isn't new or spectacular, but he was able to portray Jack as well as required. His acting was enjoyable, as was Leoni's, who plays a strong character quite well.

Cage and Leoni work well together on screen, but The Family Man contains too many useless scenes that don't give the audience full entertainment.


Dude, Where's My Car?

Starring: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott
20th Century Fox
Rated: PG-13

1 out of 5 stars

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Breaking News Staff

American Pie has set some standards on the dark humor of teenage predicament. It has fed both adult and teen audiences something to laugh about that is not usually widely humored.

Just when the teenage film trend is ending, in comes Dude, Where's My Car? One would think it would infuse us with humor much like that found in American Pie.

From the preview and the subject matter, the film looks like it would be a hilarious, although incredibly silly, piece of entertainment.

But it's not.

It's not even close to almost being silly and funny. It was plain stupid. While there is potential for a good laugh, the film falls in a huge pothole in the comedic road. All the great jokes have already been seen on the preview.

Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott portray Jesse and Chester. The two can't find Jesse's car after waking up from a night they don't remember. Throughout the film, the amnesiacs go on a search for the car while finding out what exactly they had done the night before.

Tracy Bennett/ 20th Century Fox

Seann William Scott, left, and Ashton Kutcher star in the new comedy Dude, Where's My Car?

Every joke is like a time bomb waiting to explode into something really horrible. When it does explode, the outcome is pathetic. One sits there, thinking, "This is supposed to be funny. Why am I not laughing? Wait, wait, this can get funny -- OK, no, it didn't."

Both Kutcher and Scott play off each other well because they are both bad actors. Each line seemed individually rehearsed to be repeated like a punch line, which comes out really bad. This is a sad point, because they seem to try so hard; it just doesn't work.

Director Danny Leiner (Freaks and Geeks) can only do so much with a bad script and a bad cast. His directing job is typical and technical; nothing outstanding can be pointed out.

With the directorial team of Leiner and the screenplay by Philip Stark of That '70s Show, in which Kutcher also stars in, the film has the potential to be a great comedy. Unfortunately, it never lives up to that expectation.

Dude, Where's My Car? is a disappointment in every way.

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