On with the florid jumper, down with the heavy meat-based meal and away we go for Christmas. Oh no it isn’t, I hear you shouting. See, you’re getting it. But, inexplicably, when this festive-themed movie was released in the UK on DVD, it was decided that the middle of the summer was the time to do it. Windows, that’s the reason – the scheduling slots decreed by the suits to give the cinemas time to milk the product first, before the home entertainment departments get their hands on the big cash-laden teat. It’s that sort of film too – two sets of concerns vie for a hold on the central character, played by Nicolas Cage. In one, the real reality, he’s the big swinging broker guy who abandoned his girlfriend (Tea Leoni) years before for a job in London. In the other, fantasy, reality he didn’t. After the film does a cute bit of nonsense hocus-pocus stuff, involving Don Cheadle as a taxi driver with a supernatural connection, Cage winds up back where he might have been if he hadn’t taken that London job. Which is with boisterous kids and a slobbery dog and a wife who loves him, a two bit job that allows him to cover the bills with not much over. You know, the way most of us live. Big swinging Cage hates it. But the movie, like a rom-com, has a destination that’s set in stone. We know where Cage is heading and where we’re heading. What sort of a ride is it? Kind of on obverse It’s a Wonderful Life, deliberately so, with director Brett Ratner laying on all sorts of visual cues that Frank Capra is somewhere there in the mix. As for the enjoyment factor – Cage is nice, Leoni is nice, the kids are nice. It’s nice nice nice. Like a Christmas jumper, then – you don’t really want it but it is kind of cosy.
© Steve Morrissey 2001