The Weather Man Movie Review
The title refers to Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage), chief weather forecaster for Chicago's most popular morning news program. Despite his high-profile position - and self-described light work week - life tends to maneuver against Spritz when he's away from the office. He's divorced, and all attempts to reconcile with his spouse (Hope Davis) are hitting dead ends. His listless and overweight daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Peña) earns a cruel nickname at school because her clothes are too tight. His son Mike (Nicholas Hoult) abuses marijuana, then fends off advances from his drug counselor, a sexual predator.
Finally there's Spritz himself. He overcompensates as a father, signing Shelly up for archery lessons that go unused. He's unsuccessfully trying to measure up to his own dad (Michael Caine), a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who doesn't pretend to understand his son's business of predicting weather. When opportunity presents itself in the form of a national gig on a New York-based Bryant Gumbel program, Spritz pursues it like a Doberman would approach a steak. To him, the new job will instantly fix his problems at home.
Weather is a slight departure for Verbinski. The director is best known for his wildly different ghost fantasy Pirates of the Caribbean, though he's no stranger to offbeat character pieces (The Mexican) and he beautifully paces this solemn, downbeat, man-at-a-crossroads excursion so that it marches in step to distinct emotional beats. Screenwriter Steve Conrad has penned a thorough and heartbreaking tribute to anxiety that attracts top acting talent like honey lures bees. The mature situations in Weather are handled in a painfully realistic fashion. Frank, foul language earns the film its R rating, though harsh words often are necessary when one needs to convey hurt feelings.
Cage, to his credit, hasn't been this conflicted and impressive in some time - you probably have to go back to his Oscar-winning turn in Leaving Las Vegas to find a role equally draped in human turmoil. Spritz is an unlikely protagonist, trapped in limbo but trying hard to emerge on the tunnel's bright side. These character-wrestling parts bring out the best in the hangdog Cage. His mammoth effort to unearth the root of Spritz's sadness is matched by brilliant costars Caine and Davis.
It's strange to say, but the nice thing about Weather is that things don't end smoothly for all characters. The clouds break for some, and continue to accumulate for others. The message might be that weather men are always off with their predictions, so you never know how much turbulence you're going to encounter and be asked to endure. Play it safe. Carry a big umbrella.