Wednesday 22 September 2010

Movie Review: The Weather Man (2005)

Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine will transform any movie into a watchable experience, and The Weather Man certainly is that. But with the talent available, there is a vague sense of under-achievement that grows as the film progresses and the characters don't.

The film is a character study of David Spritz (Cage), who presents the weather forecast for a Chicago TV station. Spritz is a celebrity of sorts and should be enjoying a comfortable life, but his marriage has fallen apart, his 12-year-old daughter is an overweight smoker and a bully victim, and his troubled 15-year-old son is falling under the influence of a counselor who is getting ready to abuse him. Despite facing a cancer diagnosis, David's Dad, Robert (Caine), appears to be more aware of the needs of David's family than David is.

David also needs to deal with people throughout Chicago throwing fast food at him, usually from moving cars, as sort of a sport. He is also in the running to land a prestigious position as the weather man for a national New York-based TV show. David imagines the New York position as a possible solution to all his problems, but is torn between facing the demons that surround him or escaping them.

His dad Robert is a successful Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the unspoken tension between David's inability to live up to his idea of what his father expected of him is one of the more interesting aspects of the film, although like most good ideas in Steven Conrad's script, it is never properly developed.

The Weather Man is always interesting, particularly when Caine is on the screen, but never fully engaging, and it lacks the subtlety needed to fully connect the central character with the audience. As much as David's problems are blatantly - and literally - in-your-face, his solutions are equally broad-brushed. From carrying an archery set around town (to stop the fast food assaults) to physically confronting the counselor (to stop the assaults on his son), to the incessant swearing, nothing in David's life reflects the nuances of reality. The Weather Man stops earning points when it becomes more of a caricature study than a character study.

The forecast? Mixed conditions with variable cloudiness and some sunny breaks.

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