Sliding Doors and The Family Man, both show us parallel worlds. The common themes are controlling our own destiny, taking second chances and that things aren’t always as they appear.
Our lives are not set in stone, we control our destiny, a single seemingly insignificant act can change the course of our entire life. If Helen in Sliding Doors had caught that train home, her life would be entirely different, even causing her to die in the end. If Jack had decided to not get on the plane in The Family man, his life too, would be drastically different than the life he did in fact lead.
Both films show us that you have to look a little deeper to see the true beauty of something. That while it is tempting to assume that the grass is greener on the other side, that may not always be the case. All throughout Sliding Doors it appears that the “Fake Helen” is living the better life, she caught her boyfriend cheating and broke up with him and ended up with James who encouraged her to start her business. She is successful romantically and professionally, she seems to be the better Helen. However, in the end, she dies and never gets to live her life with James and their unborn child. While “Real Helen” throughout most the movie is oblivious to her boyfriend’s infidelities and has to support the two of them with two grueling part time jobs. However, in the end, she does catch her boyfriend and breaks up with him, and meets James in the last scene. The audience knows that her and James will fall in love and that she will start her own business and that they will live a wonderful life together, only this time she is a stronger woman.
In the Family Man, Jack gets on the plane, leading to his breakup with Kate, putting him on the path of success…professional success. He has the expensive cars and fancy suits, the apartment in the city and no strings attached relationships with beautiful women. He assumes that he is happy because he has all the material possessions he could want, the impressive job and little to no real obligations or responsibilities. However, when he is given a glimpse to his alternate life, where he didn’t get on the plane and he stayed with Kate, he thinks it looks like hell in comparison to his real life. He lives in the suburbs in an unimpressive house, life is loud and hectic and messy raising two kids with less money, and a life of obligations to his family, in-laws and friends. However after time, he finds himself happier and more fulfilled in the life where he may appear to have less, but discovers he actually has much, much more, with a loving wife and children.
Coming back to the theme of second chances, Jack remembers the glimpse he had into the other world, and uses that knowledge to try and have a second chance at that life and goes to talk to Kate at the end. While he will not live that exact life, we the audience, feel confident he will end up being a “family man” again, only he won’t have regrets, knowing what it was like to live each life he made a choice, one that he is confident with and that will make him a better man.
At the end of Sliding Doors the audience knows that by Helen and James meeting they will end up together, only this time, in her second chance, Helen took the harder path getting there and is all the stronger for it, learning important life lessons, while still managing to have the happily ever after.