The Weather Man

2005 comedic character study

Rating: 16/20

Plot: Dave Spritz works for two hours a day and makes over two hundred thousand dollars a year. He tells Chicago what other people guess the weather is going to be like. He's no meteorologist, but he's got a pretty face and knows how to point at pictures of clouds or a sun with a smiling face. He's got a chance for a job as weather guy for a national morning program. However, Dave Spritz has some problems. He's separated from his wife, a woman who has already found his replacement. His son is on the drugs. His daughter's classmates call her Camel Toe. His father might be dying. People throw milkshakes at him.

I was actually shocked to see this labeled as a comedy on the poster up there. Sure, I laughed quite a bit while watching this, but I laugh at all Nicolas Cage movies whether they're supposed to be funny or not. Nicolas Cage's work provides more unintentionally comedy than the work of any other living actor. Now that I think about it, I can see The Weather Man as an intentional comedy, albeit a very dry, very deadpan, very dour one. And I can see Nicolas Cage as something close to a comedic genius. I'm starting to wonder if what I refer to as "Awkward Nicholas Cage Moments" (compare with Awkward Jimmy Stewart Moments and Awkward Vincent Price Moments) are intentionally awkward. The best example is a scene where he is chasing a car while holding a McDonalds apple pie. I always have problems accepting Cage as an Everyman, but here I think he works as a guy who, nearing the middle of his life, is having an extremely difficult time accepting that his life choices have dropped him smack dab in the middle of some kind of cruel cosmic joke. What always threatens to be trite and fluffy ends up wonderfully layered. It's thick with metaphor and really explores Spritz's life with a fine-toothed comb, just like all good character studies should. It refuses to answer all the questions, just like a lot of movies I usually like (see: A Serious Man, a similar movie [that might be a warning]), but allows the audience to make up its own mind about this dynamic character. It takes you through some difficult material, but I think Cage's performance and the humor snuck into it all makes it more digestible. Michael Caine plays Cage's father. I can't figure out why he's got an English accent, but aside from that, he's perfect. You can read so much in his character's face. The performance is deceptively simple and incredibly nuanced. There's a scene with Caine and Cage having a conversation in a car that, even though it had something incredibly cliched and silly tossed in, really touched me. And I love how Caine had to get his son to stop and define simple ordinary things during their conversations. "David, what is a Frosty?" It's the type of writing that seems like it's there to pass the time, but I thought it was great how these questions really forced Spritz to start examining some of those finer details of his life. This is one of those happy surprises, a movie I expected nothing from but ended up finding very rewarding. I was also surprised to see that Gore Verbinski directed this between a couple of those pirate movies. And long after he made the criminally underrated family-friendly masterpiece Mousehunt. Despite that last pirate movie, I like Gore's work.

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