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The look on Nicolas Cage's face
screams, "Father of the Year."
Review written by: Alex Sandell
This is the second movie (the first being Lord of War) in less than 2 months starring Nicolas Cage that proved impossible to market, impossible to adequately describe and nearly impossible to review. A full week after attending the screening and I'm still staring down this monitor like it's the spawn of Satan. The deadline for this critique came and went 3 days ago and only today does it feel like the keyboard isn't my mortal enemy.
The Weather Man hops genres like a college student on Viagra, Vodka and Red Bull hops clubs. There's no way to sum this one up in a convenient, "If you liked [add movie here], you'll love The Weather Man!" Oh no, that would be too easy. The Weather Man is the kind of film that makes a critic earn his or her keep.
The movie is a mix of American Beauty, Election, About Schmidt, Happiness, Punch-Drunk Love, One Hour Photo, and the strangest fast-food advertisement ever created. Only not really. It reminded me of each of those movies (and lots of trashy fast food chains), but The Weather Man is its own beast. It's a comedy with pedophilia. A drama with SpongeBob. A father-daughter story with a camel-toe (the kind that forms when an article of clothing is too tight in a female's nether regions). It's a happy contradiction of a movie spiked with all the manic ups, miserable downs and in-between "blahs" of life.
David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a weatherman in Chicago. He's known primarily for his "Spritz Nipper" gimmick (the coldest day of the week). For one reason or the other, his smile, name and the fact that he's not even a meteorologist drive certain citizens of the Windy City batty, causing them to pelt him with various pieces of fast food.
His wife (Hope Davis) divorced him because he forgot to ask for tarter sauce at a restaurant, his kids are about as interested in him as they are in the weather and his Pulitzer Prize winning author of a father (Michael Caine) seems displeased about or indifferent over his every move. The weary weatherman sees his salvation in landing a job with the national morning show, Hello America.
All of David's problems can be solved, David thinks, with a big promotion to national weatherman. He's sure his wife will get back together with him when he's taking in over a million a year. His despondent kids will appreciate their despondent father when he's in New York City, and the family can all stop being despondent together. David's problem isn't with being a weatherman in Chicago. The problem David Spritz has is thinking that being a Chicago weatherman isn't enough.
As a film, The Weatherman seems to be paying the price for surprising its audience. People say it's too depressing. Others say it's too "artsy." When did it become a mandatory requirement that movies be overflowing with joy? Where is it written that offbeat movies don't belong outside of art house theaters or Netflix rental queues? Who says that the director of mainstream action fare, in this case Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, be confined to a single genre of filmmaking? In this critic's opinion, Verbinksi does his best work in The Weather Man -- possibly Academy Award worthy.
The director lets the camera linger patiently as the actors do their thing. Cage and Caine both deserve Oscar nominations for what they pull off in this film. Cage deserves to win. Hope Davis as David Spritz's ex-wife, Noreen also puts in a performance worthy of a nod when award season rolls around (especially after she was ignored for her equally stunning performance in American Splendor). Steve Conrad's screenplay, which is an imaginative character piece, should not be overlooked in the "Best Original Screenplay" category, either. It's rare we get a film with this level of dialogue and introspection that isn't based on a play or novel.
From directing to acting to cinematography to screenwriting; nothing in The Weather Man feels forced. The movie is organic, rather than manufactured. Maybe it is too good to be playing in a multiplex next to The Fog and Saw II. If its 6th place debut is any indication, the multi-screened mainstream monstrosities will be farting it out onto DVD before Christmas.
Right now The Weather Man is in a theater near you. Unless you live in the heart of a big city, it's rare that a movie of this caliber reaches your neck of the woods. If you pass it up and miss seeing this dark comedy about one forlorn man and his pile of broken dreams on the big-screen, it will be you with egg (McMuffin) on your face.
Agree, disagree, do you wish you had a better education? Email Alex!
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