The Weather Man (2005)

August 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

An underrated comedy-drama, Nicholas Cage stars as a Chicago weatherman who does his best to predict unpredictable weather, even as he tries to deal with the odd and unexpected emotional currents in his own life, and those close to him. Michael Caine plays his award-winning writer father who knows President Carter, and appears to have lived a flawless and stoic life, for the most part. Living up to that isn’t easy, particularly when your marriage has fallen apart, and people will chuck a taco at you on the street for getting the weather wrong. Both Cage and Caine are excellent, in subtle and understated performances — it could have been a disaster if they’d gone over the top, but reigned in, they’re both believable and likeable people. As David Spritz, Nicholas Cage manages to relate that he has a good heart, even as he’s capable of being self-centered and petulant from time to time. As if to demonstrate the kind of negative karma his remarkably easy yet frustrating job generates (he reads the weather, without actually doing the work to predict it), the film flashes to a disatisfied middle-aged couple saying things like “What kind of name is Spritz,” and “I don’t like his face.”

As much as this can be taken as an example of our tendency to make self-satisfied snap judgements, it illustrates the kind of negativity Spritz is swimming against, making us want to root for him all the more. As his father, Michael Caine could easily have turned in a performance that made the character impenetrable, or he could have barked his lines, overdoing the idea he’s intimidating — and certainly a lesser actor would have done that — but his character stands there looking at his son, completely bewildered, asking “Why would someone throw a frosty at you? And what is a frosty?”

Aside from an excellent supporting cast, the film has a lot of style and even manages some exquisite moments and beautiful shots. It’s a film that apparently did quite poorly at the box office, maybe because at first glance it doesn’t look like anything terribly special, and certainly it’s only in the last ten minutes the film manages to reward to viewer for sticking it out through some very difficult and awkwardly funny moments, but the trip is undoubtedly worth it.

Watch the trailer here.

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