7 out of 10
"Imagining what my life would be like, what I'd be like..."
David Spritz is a TV celebrity. One would think based on his whiter-than-white smile and perfectly groomed appearance and well known by the public for his regular feature "The Spritz Nipper" that he would be a man with everything...but this is Nicholas Cage movie. Largely reprising his role from "Family Man," Cage, as Spritz, is in vintage neurotic form. He fears being recognised, won't sign autographs, is getting a divorce from his wife and is pelted by Taco Bell burritos and Wendy's Frosties more often than precipitation. Son of the famous Pulizer Prize winning writer Robert Spritzel (a perfectly dry and conservative Michael Caine), Spritz finds that he has come to a time in his life where he has to make his own decisions or to continue to be plagued by his past mistakes and living in the shadow and high expectations of his parents. Afraid of success and of being alone, he continues to chose mediocrity, until his critical and fault-finding father is diagnosed with cancer, when Spritz finds he has the inner strength to come to terms with his father and help his family, which most importantly helps him to find the courage to help himself.
Directed by Gore Verbinski ("Pirates of the Carribean") who has had an impressive career in advertising and media, including the invention of the infamous talking "Budwiser Frogs," the editing and cinematography is avant garde and as refreshing and clever as the script. Written by Steve Conrad and said to be largely autobiographical, it cleverly captures the isolation, confusion and seemingly unresolvable mishaps often experienced by those in present day North America like "American Beauty." Filled with dark humour, "The Weather Man" handles topics of school bullying, archery practice, family relations and the struggle between work and self identity. Unlike the usual Hollywood flick, Cage faces these workaday challenges in ways as dysfunctionally as we the audience probably would and cleverly captures the isolation, confusion and seemingly unresolvable mishaps often experienced by those in present day North America. With scenes that are equally beautiful and sad, reminicent of Cage's previous "Matchstick Men" or Alexander Payne's dark comedy "About Schmidt," both Caine and Cage manage to leave lasting impressions with their quiet but solid appearances, and backed by strong supporting performances by newcomer Gemmima del Pena and Nicholas Hoult ("About A Boy"), it is a memorable production.
Although at times disturbing and disconcerting, and with some very bleak scenes where one would think Verbinski has lost his focus, "The Weather Man" is overall a successfully realized and thought provoking picture and not at all "fast food" - which may have accounted for it's lack of popularity at the box office, taking in only $4 million on it's opening weekend. Like "The Ref" and "The Big Easy" with both satisfying characters and biting commentary, it braves often uncharted territory, commenting on the sometimes bewildering moments experienced while growing up.
"Quite an American accomplishment"
Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies