Dave Spritz is a local weatherman in his home town of Chicago, where his career is going well while his personal life -- his relationship with his perfectionist writer father, his neurotic ex-wife, and his now-separated children -- is spiraling downward. Despite being both loathed and loved by the local masses, Dave is a guy who doesn't seem to have it all together, and in this film, he begins to feel it. An attractive job offer presents Dave with a major question: to pursue his career in New York City, or to remain at home with his family. Written by
Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean X3, The Ring, The Mexican) has an uncanny way of moving strange characters through bizarre plots while maintaining our interest and our empathy. THE WEATHER MAN was so poorly promoted when it hit the theaters that it seemed like it was going to be one of those asinine food throwing slapstick comedies instead of the very serious examination of contemporary life in the big cities, or even more about the struggle of a disillusioned man who cannot find a balance between business success and family/marital failure, it is. This viewer almost ignored it completely - until the DVD.
David Spritz (Nicholas Cage) is a TV pawn the station uses as a weatherman: he is untrained as a meteorologist, skilled only be his TV persona success dependent on a created gag/tag line - the Nipper (the peak worst day in the forecast). His personal life is a mess, separated from a disconsolate wife Noreen (Hope Davis), distanced from his successful writer father Robert (Michael Caine) and on shaky territory with his two children - fat and sad Sully (Gemmenne de la Peña) and sweet but troubled pothead Mike (Nicholas Hoult). To make life worse his TV persona follows him into the streets of blustery Chicago where his viewers either seek autographs invading his privacy or throw food at him as the progenitor of the lousy cold weather. This polarized existence is invaded by an offer to become weatherman on Bryan Gumbel's Hello America show in New York (a career jump for which he longs for many reasons), serial confrontations with his father whom he emulates but always feels a failure, the finding that his father has lymphoma, the ridicule of fat Shelly at school, Mike's edgy involvement with his drug counselor Don (Gil Bellows), and Noreen's new live-in Russ (Michael Rispoli). How David meanders through this quagmire of dilemmas is the story and while it is not pretty, it is pungent.
Cage inhabits the strange role of David finding a way to make this loser with a short temper someone about whom we care. It is a tough assignment but Cage meets it on every level. Michael Caine provides some of the more eloquent moments in the film: his words of wisdom and view of life are the only grounded elements of the story. Likewise Hope Davis is fine as are the cameo roles of the children as sensitively played by de la Peña and Hoult. The subject of the film is tough and the excessive use of potty mouth language is overbearing and at times one wishes Verbinski would have edited some of the gross food slinging scenes.
But as an overall message movie there is much here to admire. It simply is not the mindless slapstick the posters and trailers would indicate. The PR folks on this one blew it. Worth your time and attention. Grady Harp
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