The Family Man: An Unsanitized Picture of Marriage

Posted: December 8, 2014 by jperritt in Comedy, Drama
Tags: , , , , , ,

familyIf you’ve followed this site much at all, you know that The Family Man is a film I watch every year around Christmas time.  I know, I know…Nicholas Cage is the star, but this was before he got to be the Nicholas Cage who stars in Left Behind.  For those of you who’ve only grown up with this Nicholas Cage, I need to remind you that he won an Oscar for Best Actor.  And, I would also say that his acting is good in this film.  Therefore, if you haven’t seen this film, give it a shot.

With that endorsement, however, comes a warning.  There is some questionable content, but I would argue that the content isn’t needless – it’s illustrative of the overall message.  The movie shows the emptiness of worldliness, but it must do so by accurately depicting worldliness.

However, a specific aspect of this film I enjoy is its depiction of marriage.  I was helped to see this through a conversation I had with a friend.  While I was sharing my enjoyment of this film, my friend exclaimed that he didn’t like it.  As I inquired further, I discovered that his dislike was due to the fact that the husband and wife “argued too much.”  I would simply say that this is part of the reason I do appreciate it.  Many Hollywood films sanitize marriage, love, and relationships to such a degree, the audience ends up being lied to – given a false hope for what marriage should be.

Listen to the opening words of Tim & Kathy Keller’s, The Meaning of Marriage:

I’m tired of listening to sentimental talks on marriage.  At weddings, in church, and in Sunday school, much of what I’ve heard on the subject has as much depth as a Hallmark card.  While marriage is many things, it is anything but sentimental.  Marriage is glorious but hard. It’s a burning joy and strength, and yet it is also blood, sweat, and tears, humbling defeats and exhausting victories.  No marriage I know more than a few weeks old could be described as a fairy tale come true.

This is the strong point of The Family Man.  It gives a truthful and glorious picture of marriage.  The exhaustion, the frustration, the joys and the blessings are on full display in this movie.  While husbands and wives can grow in areas of their marriage, marriage is work and TFM is a film that shows this.  However, TFM doesn’t only display the difficulties, but the blessings that come about because of the work.

So, anyone can understand why we long for a sanitized image of marriage.  Scripture tells us that marriage was designed to communicate Christ’s love for his church. (Eph. 5:22-33)  Our desire for the “perfect marriage” will only take place in the new heavens and the new earth.  This, again, is why I appreciate TFM.  It reminds us that marriage will not be heaven on earth.  Yes we get tastes of that, but it reminds us that we still need redemption and – I don’t know about you – but I like films that point us to our need for that.

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