WEATHER MAN, THE
Chicago television weatherman, Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage), has a shot at the big time when a national morning show in New York calls him for an audition. While his career looks like heading in the right direction, his personal life is a mess, in the wake of a painful divorce from his wife, Noreen (Hope Davis). His famous father (Michael Caine) is seriously ill and there is trouble with both kids, Mike (Nicholas Hoult) and Shelly (Gemmene de la Pena).
Review by Louise Keller:
Anyone aspiring to be a television weather man may think again after watching Nicolas Cage being bombed with fast food in the big city. Gore Verbinski's The Weather Man attempts to hit various targets in this story about a man whose life is as unpredictable as the weather he predicts, but it just misses the bullseye.
Cage's David Spritz feels as though he's a failure. He may have achieved some level of success in his hometown of Chicago, but he has no regard for his achievements and lives in the shadow of his Pulitzer prize winning father (Michael Caine). It is his father's approval that he wants most of all, but his life is an unruly hurricane. His marriage with Noreen (Hope Davis) ended on a bitter note and although he is trying hard to be an attentive father, he seems helpless that his teenage children (Gemmenne de la Pena, Nicholas Hoult) are being drawn down the wrong path.
Cage is as good as always, making us feel David's insecurity and discomfort. The fact that he takes up archery is symbolic of the journey he is making - he goes from being the target, to finding one. All the performances are excellent - Davis, underrated as his ex wife, and de la Pena startlingly good as David's ugly duckling daughter. You may remember Hoult playing opposite Hugh Grant in About A Boy. He too, is spot on. And Michael Caine brings the film's gravitas, as the father who finally helps David into a kinder weather pattern.
There is much about the film that is excellent as we are sucked into David's life. We are tossed about with him as all his good intentions go astray. His character gets bogged down with feeling sorry for himself, and the film's emotional curve never soars at that crucial moment. It does get past the finishing line, but the central theme that a father's work is never done is executed with heavy hands.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Nicolas Cage's last film role in Lord of War required him to narrate over the film in character, talking about himself in an intimate sort of way. He has to do the same here, but while in the former film the device works to set up the character of his arms dealer, here it doesn't. That's probably because there isn't a character to set up; Dave Spritz is a shallow creation, one that even an actor of Cage's talents cannot bring to three dimensional life. The problem gets worse: we wouldn't much care for him even if he were real. But then the only character we might care about is his dad, and the problem here is that Michael Caine is just not great at acting American. He seems to minimise his emotions while he fumbles with the accent.
Somewhere along the way, Steve Conrad's screenplay has had the air let out of it, and like a flat tyre, it frabblewabbles along noisily without gathering momentum. The mood is hardly comedic, as the characters float through a wintry Chicago in a state of anguish that has no obvious humour. Maybe a laugh track would help ... although this would have to be interrupted at several points for some clunky divorce-conflict scenes and the bits about the teenage boy's experience with a pedophile, as well as all the scenes with Shelly, the obese daughter who is so tragic it single handedley gives the film lead poisoning.
Stilted direction and disorganised editing add to the film's woes, but I did like the shots of iced up Chicago's Lake Michigan.
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WEATHER MAN, THE (MA)
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Gemmenne de la Pena, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Rispoli
PRODUCER: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch
DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
SCRIPT: Steve Conrad
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phaedon Papamichael
EDITOR: Craig Wood
MUSIC: James S. Levine, Hans Zimmer
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Tom Duffield
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 23, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount
VIDEO RELEASE: November 2, 2006
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