Friday, August 11, 2006

The Weather Man

Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis
Running Time: 102 min.
Rating: PG-13

*** (out of ****)

No one disappears into a role like Nicholas Cage. In the canon of great Nic Cage performances his work here in The Weather Man probably falls somewhere below his performances in Matchstick Men, Leaving Las Vegas, and Adaptation but above National Treasure, Raising Arizona, and Con-Air. If you're a Cage fan this movie is a must-see, but going in be warned it's a dark comedy (a very dark one) with a really offbeat sense of humor.

Cage plays Chicago weatherman Dave Spritz (he was forced to shorten his name from Spritzel by the TV executives for obvious weather related reasons). He's divorced from his wife (Hope Davis), who clearly despises him, has a son in rehab, and a depressed, overweight, chain smoking 12 year old daughter Shelly whose nickname at school is "camel toe." One of the best scenes in the movie comes when Dave attempt to ask her why she thinks they call her that. He turns to his father, former Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Robert (Michael Caine in a great low-key supporting performance) for guidance and gets it, as he's the only voice of reason in Dave's life. Unfortunately though he's dying of cancer.

See Dave is one of those guys where nothing seems to go right in his personal or professional life and he can't seem to get a grasp on the fame being a weatherman brings him. It doesn't help that he's cursed at and pelted with Slurpees every time he walks on the street. He's a fake. His name sounds fake, his weather gimmicks ("Spritz Nipper" of the week) are fake and he knows this. The movie brings up something interesting because if you think about it everyone hates weathermen. They get paid a ridiculous amount of money to do an easy job and most of the time they're completely wrong. But really, who can accurately predict the weather? He has a hilarious encounter with a fan in one of the first scenes of the film who just wants an autograph, but Dave just can't seem to grasp why and they have a ridiculous argument. He feels just because they see him on tv they're not entitled to claim they know him or know anything about him. What's so funny about the movie is how hard Dave tries to be the person he thinks he should and the harder he tries to bigger the disasters get.

He attempts to bond with his daughter through archery, but it's really just an excuse for him to do it. The irony of him enjoying archery when he can't hit any other target in his life is not lost. He tries hopelessly to reconcile with his ex-wife but lies to her and harasses her current boyfriend, even slapping him with a glove for no reason. Watching Cage bumble through these scenes with that hangdog expression on his face is priceless. When he has to give a speech at his father's "living memorial" he starts it saying something so unrelated and ridiculously out of left field that it's hilarious.

The movie was directed by Gore Verbinski (of Pirates of The Caribbean fame) and is shot really well, almost incorporating the weather as a character in the film with the cold, snowy scenery in Chicago. A lot of small are thrown at us and most all of them work (although Dave's son's experience with a pedophile counselor was kind of off putting even for a comedy this dark). At one point Dave is told by his father that "nothing that has meaning is easy and that easy doesn't enter into grown-up life." After watching The Weather Man you'll have a great idea what he's talking about.

No comments: