Review: ‘The Weather Man’

A broken little man with his broken little life tries to pick up the broken little pieces. Or, to put it another way, how gloomy can one movie make you feel before mercifully coming to an end?

David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a television weather man based in Chicago. As his droll narration explains, he basically makes a quarter-million dollars per year for about two hours work per day, leaving him plenty of time to mope. His ex-wife Noreen (Hope Davis) is seeing another man, his pre-teen daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Pe?±a) smokes, his teenage son Mike (Nicholas Hoult) spends too much time with a creepy childless councilor, and his father (Michael Caine) is being secretive with his visits to the doctor’s office. If all of this weren’t depressing enough, Spritz must also endure drive-by assaults with fast food items proceeded only by the warning, “Hey, Weather Man!”

To say that this film is depressing is an understatement; it’s like attending the funeral of someone you don’t know who’s actually still waiting to die. After being introduced to Nic Cage (complete with requisite hairpiece and the most coerced television personality smile ever), you can’t help but think, “Instead of worrying and being depressed all the time, why don’t you DO something about it with all the free time you have without any financial obligations or worries?” This alone pretty much destroys any sympathy viewers might have had identifying with the character; it’s far more likely they’ll think he deserves everything that happens to him. As for the rest of the cast, some of the language coming from these characters of all ages could make sailors and truck drivers cover their ears (Cage included).

Whether intentional or not, Spritz starts to show a few signs of life in the second act, but predictably he overshoots the mark by going from no-show to super-dad and wonders why everyone isn’t buying into it. This is the point where the film flounders and where audiences may REALLY start to lose interest; is this going anywhere? How much does this guy (and the audience) have to endure before he finally succeeds at something or throws himself off a balcony?

Rest assured that in the hands of director Gore Verbinski, things tend to work themselves out and those electing to stay for the third act may find a satisfactory conclusion. Unfortunately, this film seems to be a step in the wrong direction for Verbinski; unlike the quirky but lovable The Mexican, the love-it-or-hate-it Weather Man makes you have to work at wanting to watch it. Cage fans, Caine fans, and Verbinski fans may have less trouble holding on, but by the time the dark clouds part and spew a little sunshine on the end credits, it’s not much of a silver lining.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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