THE WEATHER MAN

Review by Mark Walters

 

David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a weather man for a local news station.  As is the case with most men or women in that profession, his predictions aren't always accurate.  In fact sometimes they're downright wrong.  Though he doesn't like it, Dave must endure random acts of frustration from disappointed viewers, usually in the form of getting fast food chucked at him when he least expects it.  Dave's personal life isn't going very well either.  He's separated from his wife Noreen (Hope Davis), and barely knows his own kids.  His young daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Pena) smokes behind everyone's back, and gets made fun of for the way she dresses.  His son Mike (Nicholas Hoult) is unwittingly getting mixed up with a perverted drug counselor (Gil Bellows).  Noreen is now seeing another man named Russ (Michael Rispoli), who seems to be more involved with Dave's kids than he is.  His somewhat sheltered father, Robert (Michael Caine), an accomplished writer, has discovered some health issues that may end his life rather soon.  Dave wants nothing more than for Robert to be impressed with him.  He feels like correcting his past mistakes could be just the answer he's looking for.  A potential job for a national morning news show with Bryant Gumbel called "Hello America" may also be exactly what Dave needs to get things back on track.  But first he must figure himself out, and do everything he can to make things right with his family.  The question is whether or not it's too late.
 

THE WEATHER MAN is one of those "slice of life" films that shows the typical American family for what they really are.  While we can all find something about Dave that is similar to our own lives, even we don't necessarily know the answers to the problems he's faced with.  His job opportunity is exactly what he wants, but it would require him to sacrifice valuable time with those he loves most.  It's an interesting setup for a story, but sadly doesn't really go anywhere.  The character of Dave is so emotionless throughout a majority of the film that we have a hard time rooting for him.  You would think that a guy who puts up with so many upset viewers would enjoy the occasional fan.  But he doesn't.  Dave sees them as an annoyance regardless.  It's as if he's gotten stuck in a profession he doesn't enjoy, but sees no other option available.  The film plays out in similar fashion to AMERICAN BEAUTY, but lacks the endearing qualities that allow us to invest interest in the characters.  There are a few borderline heartwarming moments, such as Dave trying to help his kids with their problems, or a scene late in the film where he snaps at one of his fast food attackers.  But overall the film just plods along without much payoff.  Cage is interesting to watch as always, but the character he plays doesn't give him much to work with.  Michael Caine also plays things so mellow, it negates any potential chemistry between him and Cage, which ultimately hurts the film the most.  Hope Davis is effective in her role of the untrusting ex-wife, and Gemmenne de la Pena and Nicholas Hoult only get momentary opportunities to make a lasting impression.  Perhaps the most impacting performance comes briefly from Gil Bellows, who is incredibly creepy as the sick and twisted counselor Mike confides in.

The film is directed by Gore Verbinski, who made a big impression with the American version of THE RING and the blockbuster PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.  Where Verbinski excelled in those films, he fails to impress with this one.  The script is really slow moving, and extremely hard to get into.  Even Hans Zimmer's downplayed score feels like an afterthought.  I think when you do a film like this, there has to be elements of fun and impressive resolution.  It's not completely awful, as there are a few bits of genuine laughter, and more than a few scenes that are at least though-provoking.  Some of the subplots, such as Dave's interest in archery, and its effect on his stress, make you think things might all come together in the end.  But somehow it just doesn't feel like a successful story.  I'm not saying another director could've done any better, but what we're left with is too plain for it's own good.  I can say they assembled a fine cast, and you can tell they're all trying their best with the material their given.  But you just can't force a movie to be good, it either is or it isn't.  Maybe the rather anticlimactic ending is what kills it.  I just don't know.  But as much as I wanted to like this film, I honestly didn't.  My forecast: a less than satisfying reaction from audiences.

BIGFANBOY.com score - On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, I give THE WEATHER MAN a 5.


Visit the official Paramount Pictures THE WEATHER MAN movie website by clicking here.

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