Good movie, but best of all time? Hardly . . .
As Good As It Gets
A lot of perfectly good film show their cards early, establish a unique premise and let the audience explore a topic at a leisurely pace, without much in terms of surprise. this film is not one of those films.
Writer Bill Dubuque and Director Mark Williams have created a tender, sensitive family story that is well developed and addresses many of the issues we all face. A brilliant cast delivers the goods with style and empathy - and Chicago has never been so beautifully captured photographically as cinematographer Shelly Johnson has accomplished. The musical score is by the always-reliable Mark Isham.As the boss (Willem Dafoe) of a Chicago-based headhunter, Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler), who works at the Blackridge Recruiting agency arranging jobs for engineers, prepares to retire, Jensen vies to achieve his longtime goal of taking over the company going head-to-head with his ambitious rival, Lynn Vogel (Alison Brie). Factors intervene: Dane's close friend Lou (Alfred Molina) is unemployed and desperate for work, Dane's wife Elise (Gretchen Mol) is concerned Dane is not spending time with his family, and Dane's 10-year-old son, Ryan (Max Jenkins), is suddenly diagnosed with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia by the doctor Singh (Anupam Kher) and his professional priorities at work and personal priorities at home begin to clash with one another. Dane spends quality time with Ryan by touring the beautiful architectural wonders of Chicago and Ryan's wise observations set Dane on a new path. Dane finds a job for Lou (at Dane's expense of giving up a headhunter's fee for a friend), and Dane and Elise grow closer. Dane is pulled between achieving his professional dream and supporting his wife and son, who need him now more than ever.Much of the success of the film is attributable to the fine performance by Gerard Butler, but he is enhanced by the performances of the entire cast. A very 'feel good' movie, perfect to restore faith in humankind just when we need it the most.
A headhunter whose life revolves around closing deals in a a survival- of-the-fittest boiler room, battles his top rival for control of their job placement company -- his dream of owning the company clashing with the needs of his family. Family Man benefits from strong performances from Gerard Butler, Alfred Molina, Gretchen Mol and newcomer Max Jenkins, unfortunately the cheap dramatic moments and some jokes that don't land at all ruin what could have been a great film. Plus the main character spends more time with his job and the audience as well instead of spending more time with his "dying" son. I feared that the drama wasn't going to land as well since i first saw the trailer and i was right, the performances might have been great but i was expecting something along the lines of "The Pursuit of Happiness" instead of a film that doesn't know what direction it wants to go or what it wants to be in general. (5.5/10)
"Cancer is not a negotiation, Mr. Jensen." In "Olympus has fallen" and "London has fallen" Gerard Butler took care of the president of America and fought against a whole battalion of terrorists. In "A family man" Dane Jensen (Gerard Butler) has to fight other demons. On the one hand there's his hectic and energy-hungry job as headhunter. A job he lives for and that keeps him occupied for at least 70 hours a week without exception. And on the other hand there's his charming wife Elise (Gretchen Mol), his son Ryan (Max Jenkins) and daughter Lauren (Julia Butters). A warm family that never lacks anything thanks to Dane's efforts. On a materialistic level that is. Because each and every one of them craves for the presence of a husband and a father figure. Dane may be physically present but in reality he's always busy with his work. This results in displeasure and frustration. Dan always acts like a businessman. When Ryan seems to gain weight, he reacts pragmatically. He just gets up at an inhuman hour to go jogging with his son.The psychological pressure increases when Dane's boss Ed Blackridge (Willem Dafoe) announces that he's thinking of a well-deserved retirement and passes on his position to the person who can present the best annual figures. You don't have to be a Nostradamus to predict what effect this has on Dan. And then it turns out that Ryan's overweight is not because of playing "Assassin's creed" for hours while enjoying loads of snacks. It's a swollen spleen due to a severe form of leukemia that causes his waistline to increase. Most viewers (including myself) will start rolling their eyes and shake their heads. Not again another sentimental story with that horrible disease as a central theme and the inner conflict certain people will feel. In this case it's Dan who has to find the right balance between his competitive job and the welfare of his son. And he comes to the realization that no compromises can be made or illegal tricks can be used in such a way that the aggravation of the disease can be avoided.The message is crystal clear after a while. The whole karma and "What goes around comes around" principle is really emphatically emphasized. It's all about that moment when you realize that you shouldn't take everything for granted and you start realizing what's really important in life. I wouldn't be surprised if Dan decided to convert to the monotheistic religion of the Sikhs and move to India to live there as righteous Punjab. The transformation from unscrupulous, senseless workaholic into an insightful family man whose priorities suddenly changed completely, was enormously predictable. But despite that predictability and cheesiness, I couldn't resist to look at the rest of this über-emotional tearjerker.In terms of content it was perhaps very syrupy sweet and not very original. But in terms of interpretation I can only respect Gerard Butler whose acting-past is richly filled with action-rich roles where an elaborated character wasn't really required. As King Leonidas in "300" and Mike Banning in "London / Olympus has fallen" he only had to be fearless, ruthless and determined. So no complex feelings and character traits. The implausible wasn't due to his acting performance, but due to a reasonably weak script. The most eye-catching and praiseworthy acting is for Max Jenkins who, despite his young age, delivers an admirable performance. Ryan was portrayed realistically by this young boy. The rest of the cast took care of the no less important roles, but they weren't not so explicitly in the spotlight. Gretchen Mol as the disgruntled wife (but on the other hand she was in a privileged position thanks to the well-payed job of her husband). Alison Brie, the ravishing rival of Dan. Willem Dafoe as the single, tyrannical CEO whose life was only focused on making loads of money. And Alfred Molino in a modest role as an unemployed engineer at age, who only serves as a toy in Dan's head hunter's game.I am not a hypersensitive type or over-sentimental, but when a drama with this kind of subject doesn't not touch me or moves me, then something is wrong. Either it's totally unbelievable or it's so predictable. I'm afraid the movie just follows a well-known path without deviating, so that it has little interesting to offer. Towards the end, I said to my wife: "If that little boy wakes up now, I'll eat my shoe." Never knew that shoe soles were so chewy.More reviews here : http://movie-freak.be
I was pleasantly surprised by how engrossing and perfectly realised this film is, mainly due to I think the excellent screenplay and the wonderful development of not only Gerald Butler's gritty and underhand portrayal of the father, but by the growth of all the characters over all. The only small disappointment was one plot point that seemed too well signposted leading up to it's reveal, but apart from that this is really worth the watch. Excellent all around, plus special credit must be given to the young boy who plays Butlers son. For what I think was his first film, he gave a reserved, balanced and well rounded performance for his age. Well done!