|The Weather Man (2005)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Gil Bellows, Gemmenne de la Pena, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Gore Verbinski
ALSO! Check out where it ranked in our 2005 Year in Review.
To all of those who thought that Cameron Crowe’s “Elizabethtown” could have been a hell of a lot better, director Gore Verbinski offers proof in the shape of his latest film “The Weather Man.” The film can easily be viewed as a much more grown-up version of Crowe’s endeavor. It features a protagonist who has a troubled relationship with his father and an even more troubling relationship with himself, and ends with a funeral where everything doesn’t quite go as planned. Unlike “Elizabethtown,” however, “Weather Man” manages to stay on track during its noticeably shorter runtime, thanks mostly to Stephen Conrad’s airtight script.
David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) isn’t exactly the happiest guy on the block. In fact, we see clear evidence of this in the opening minutes of the film as he attempts to cheer himself up in front of his bathroom mirror. But Dave is Chicago’s top weatherman, and he’s dedicated to his job despite the numerous fast food drive-by’s that have targeted him while walking down the street. Frostys, Big Gulps, McDonald’s Apple Pies. You name it, and he’s probably been hit by it. Pulling in over $200,000 a year for a couple of hours of work each day, Dave’s even changed his last name to Spritz at the suggestion of his agent because it sounds more refreshing.
The son of a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Robert Spritzel (Michael Caine), David constantly fights for his father’s attention, and when he finally gets a feeler letter from a national morning show (think “Good Morning America”), Dave makes sure that his father knows about his accomplishment. He slyly places the letter on his passenger seat before picking his father up from the hospital, but Robert just sits down without even acknowledging it. He’s definitely a hard act to follow, and when Dave discovers that his father is dying of lymphoma, he vows to get his life back into order and make him proud. This includes winning back his wife Noreen (Hope Davis), whose marriage to David has already fallen apart - presumably because he forgot to get tartar sauce on his way to pick up the take-out – and playing Super Dad to his two kids Mike and Shelly (Nicholas Hoult and Gemmenne de la Pena, respectively).
Nicolas Cage is looking at yet another award-worthy performance in his portrayal of Dave Spritz, while Michael Caine will most likely share those honors in the supporting category. Both actors are absolutely hilarious together in what appears to be one of the sharpest black comedies of the past five years. But the movie isn’t without its faults, and while the film doesn’t necessarily feel long, there are certain moments where it moves a bit too slowly. Then again, this is the mood of the entire film, and can hardly work against something as alluring as the events that follow. The filmmakers know exactly when these moments occur too, because as soon as the story slows down, Cage is hit smack in the face with yet another tasty drink or greasy food product. And unlike the innutritious items that manage to find their way into Dave’s daily life, “The Weather Man” is a very wholesome treat indeed.
Gore Verbinski’s “The Weather Man” was one of the most underrated films of the year. The DVD, however, doesn’t even come close. Only five production featurettes appear on the single-disc release, and it took less than an hour to get through them all. Of the extras available, only three of them are really worth checking out, including a look at the origins of the script (“Extended Outlook”), a character featurette (“Relative Humidity”), and a crew featurette (“Trade Winds”) with an interesting bit on composed Hans Zimmer.