Hanging around on the shelf for a year or so, it’s easy to see why thestudio would have trouble selling The Weather Man.
It may star Nicolas Cage,but its dark, melancholic and bitter tone isn’t usually the type which goesdown well with mainstream audiences. Unsurprisingly then, the film tanked atthe US box office. Will UK audiences, whose weather often leaves much to be desired, be more accepting of a film that decidedly looks on the dark side of life?
Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a weather man. Despite having ahigh-profile and well-paid job, he is frequently harassed by members of thepublic. Recently separated from his wife and struggling to develop any commonrelationship with his two children, his family life isn’t doing much better.He’s also constantly trying to impress his Pulitzer prize winning father(Michael Caine), who’s not the easiest man to impress. Throughout a coldwinter, Dave attempts to reinvigorate his life, with mixed results.
The Weather Man sometimes feels like an independent film, trapped in astudio movie. Its grim wintry setting and bitter mood aren’t necessarilywhat you would expect from director Gore Verbinski, the film maker behindPirates of the Caribbean and The Mexican. But he deserves kudosfor yet again changing genre with his movies.
The Weather Man is a skillful portrait of a man who has found himself in ajob he has little passion for and has a family hedoesn’t connect with. His constant attempts to impress his father andto find common ground with his children are both funny and poignant. Funny moments are littered throughout the movie – a scenewith tartar sauce and a botched relationship counselling session spring tomind. It may not be an all-out comedy, but the sardonic elements of themovie work well.
Nicolas Cage delivers a terrific performance, without going intooverdrive. As a character study of the titlecharacter, the film offers a strong sense of the main protagonist. Michael Caine and Hope Davis (his estranged wife), also deliversuccessful work. Although the film is primarily about this guy trying tosort his life out, there are no grand speeches about where he went wrong andno magic moments when everyone around him tells them they love him. It’srefreshing that the film never panders to sentiment and stays true to itselfthroughout.
The Weather Man, despite being sold as comedy, isn’t going to be acrowd-pleaser. It’s a cynical drama that stands against a million othersimilar movies by saying that sometimes life doesn’t work out and howeverhard you try, sometimes you just can’t make it work. It’s been criticised by some asbeing too depressing for a Paramount picture. Since when has the grimness ofa movie made it into a bad one? If you don’t dig happy endings, but preferreal ones, then see this film.