The Weather Man (2005)

DVD Cover (Paramount Reissue)
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> Best Films of 2006
Overall Rating 65%
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Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage
Michael Caine
Michael Caine
Hope Davis
Hope Davis
Gemmenne de la Peņa
Gemmenne de la Peņa
Nicholas Hoult
Nicholas Hoult
Review by bluemeanie
Added: November 06, 2005
Critics are weird when it comes to Nicolas Cage films. "Adaptation" was one of the most heralded films of the year when it was released, and Cage's performance was touted as one of the finest in any film. Then came "Matchstick Men", where Cage delivered an even better performance, yet the film was panned by many critics because they thought Cage was over-the-top and unbelievable, thus causing the film to flop at the box office, a true shame because "Matchstick Men" was a truly remarkable film. Since, Cage has had a blockbuster with "National Treasure" and a mid-grade success with the critically favored "Lord of War". Now comes "The Weather Man", the much delayed release from director Gore Verbinski, who is fresh off enormous success with both "The Ring" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl". It is nothing like Verbinski has ever given us before, and what it does it show that he is one of the best directors working today. He not only has the ability to churn out blockbusters adventures about pirates and video tapes, but also the keen sensibility to craft what is, essentially, an art-house flick released by a major studio. Typically, you would expect "The Weather Man" to be released by Focus Features or Killer Films, not a major Hollywood studio like Paramount. Typically, the big studios stay the hell away from material like this. Maybe Verbinski's reputation was enough to tack them on board. Maybe Nicolas Cage was the selling point, or Michael Caine. Whatever the reason, they should be glad they did.

Nicolas Cage stars as Chicago weatherman David Spritz. Essentially, the film opens with his life falling apart. His wife Noreen (Hope Davis) has separated from him, though we actually find out it was David who probably did the separating. His daughter Shelley (Gemmenne de la Pena) is highly obese and seems to be unhappy in everything she does. After mentioning she likes arrows, Dave takes that to mean she wants to learn archery lessons, so he signs her up for a five course lesson and spends hundreds of dollars on archery equipment; they use one of the lessons. His son Mike (Nicholas Hoult) has been in trouble with drugs and now seems to be in a bizarre friendship with his drug counselor Don (Gil Bellows). His father, Robert Spritzer (Michael Caine) is an acclaimed novelist who won the Pulitzer Prize and seems to always be disappointed in his son. David is chronically unhappy. He wants his wife back, he wants his children to respect him, and more than anything, he doesn't want to be viewed as a disappointment by his father. About thirty minutes into the film we discover that Michael Caine's character has an untreatable lymphoma, and that he is going to die. This makes it even more imperative for David that he spruce up his life and get back on track. He begins interviewing for the position of a national weatherman on the Bryant Gumble morning show, he continues spending money and time on his daughter, and he even tries going to a counselor with his wife, in the hopes that they will get back together. Unfortunately, David always seems to be one step behind everyone else. He is an unhappy person, and he makes mistakes.

A film like "The Weather Man" keeps you captivated by investing you in the characters, emotionally. We care about Dave Spritz because he always seems to be getting the shaft. Chicago citizens throw fast food at him from their cars because they don't care for him, or his predictions. His daughter always seems to be using him, and never really cares about his feelings. We have this overwhelming feeling that Dave is just one of those guys who is doomed to misfortune. Nicolas Cage is great at getting to the heart of these depressed, sad characters who seemed destined for suicide, but have just enough happiness to keep them from doing it. In "The Weather Man", Cage is given some extraordinary scenes with which to work. After getting cut off at his father's Living Funeral, Cage is walking into work one morning when his father pulls up and asks him to get in the car. He then immediately starts playing Bob Seger's "Like A Rock" and this scene has more poignancy and more emotion than any other in the film. Just watch the expressions on Cage's and Caine's faces. We learn in this one scene that his father has never been disappointed in him. There is another scene where Cage is outside of the Living Funeral, shooting arrows, when his ex-wife's new love interest steps outside. This turns into the most tense and suspenseful scene in the film, considering we really don't know what Cage's character is going to do. This is one of Nicolas Cage's best performances and it certainly deserves recognition come awards time, though it will certainly be ignored.

Since I have already bragged on Nicolas Cage in the previous paragraph, I will use this paragraph to talk about the film some more, and Michael Caine. In yet another phenomenal supporting performance, Michael Caine is outstanding as the wise and successful father who seems to have all the answers, but also knows the worse things to say. Cage and Caine have a unique chemistry that really makes them seem like father and son, and Caine is another actor here who deserves Oscar consideration for a role that does so much in the film, but will probably go underappreciated. Now, some random thoughts on "The Weather Man" - the music by Hans Zimmer is extraordinary, and definitely the most unique orchestrations he has ever brought to the table - it helps turn this film into something more, much like the music in "The Ice Storm"; in a sense, the music becomes the weather. I also enjoyed how Gore Verbinski's style of direction here - going for simplicity and minimalism as much as possible. "The Weather Man" truly seemed like an art-house film that might star Campbell Scott and Patricia Clarkson. It seemed like it should be playing somewhere other than your mainstream cineplex. But, this film is special in its ability to transcend the art-house flock and stumble into the mainstream with ease and efficiency. "The Weather Man" is a depressing film, likely the most depressing film to come from a major studio, but it works and I loved it.

Kudos to Gore Verbinski for showing he has the talent to thrill as well as inspire. Kudos to Nicolas Cage for continuing to choose roles that challenge he as an actor and we as an audience. Kudos to Michael Caine for shining bright once more in a supporting performance. "The Weather Man" was the best film I have seen in 2005, and I know how many times I say that, but they just keep coming out better and better than the ones before. I want to see Nicolas Cage for Best Actor, Michael Caine for Best Supporting Actor, Steve Conrad for Best Original Screenplay, and Hans Zimmer for Best Original Score. All of those individuals help make "The Weather Man" the extraordinary piece of cinema that it is. You won't walk out of the theatre feeling happy, jolly, and inspired. You might walk out of the theatre feeling down in the dumps, but you will certainly have a better perspective on life, and how great yours probably is compared to the life of Dave Spritz. So, the forecasts are in, and "The Weather Man" has nothing but good weather in sight straight through to Oscar.

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