The oft-maligned "The Family Man" (2000) stars Nicolas Cage as a Wall Street tycoon who is given a glimpse of the life he might have led if he hadn't left his college girlfriend behind to study international banking in London. I think it's by far the most successful attempt in recent years to put a contemporary spin on "It's a Wonderful Life."

Everything about this movie has genuine warmth and smarts, whether it's Don Cheadle's daring portrayal of a street-tough guardian angel or the affectionate satiric vision of the New Jersey suburb where Cage finds himself trapped -- or liberated -- with a wife (Tea Leoni) and small daughter.

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Cage makes his natural eccentricities work beautifully for the character; the daughter thinks he's an alien who's replaced her real father, and Cage shapes his performance around the notion of an alien becoming human. Leoni has never been better on the big screen: She's the epitome of passionate and playful domesticity.

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