The Weather Man

on October 28, 2005 by Wade Major
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Audiences should make every effort to seek out "The Weather Man," an intelligent, offbeat, thematically risky drama infused with throbbing bolts of wry and cynical humor. Rediscovering his more temperate, understated side, Nicolas Cage plays Chicago television weatherman David Spritz, a man whose success in his chosen field has done nothing to prevent his life from coming apart at the seams, much less quell his chronic insecurities. He lives in the shadow of a famous, Pulitzer Prize-winning father (Michael Caine), has no tolerance whatsoever for people who recognize him in public -- even if they're fans -- and possesses absolutely no grasp of how to emotionally connect with either his ex-wife (Hope Davis) or his two adolescent kids (Gemmenne De la Pena, Nicholas Hoult). On top of all that, people often throw things at him in public.

To friends, family and strangers, Spritz is just a screw-up who lucked into one of the easiest jobs on the planet. But filmgoers get a different perspective -- a look inside Spritz' tenuous, ever-shifting mental state via extensive voiceovers that tellingly fill in the awkward moments in Spritz's life, making pointed connections between people, places, events and things that would ordinarily appear to have no connection whatsoever. And that helps explain why Spritz, despite the personal failures that persist alongside professional success, continues to believe that the two may be reconcilable. He's not a particularly likable man, but he's not without his likable traits. And that makes him infinitely more interesting than 90 percent of the characters that most studio films impose on their audiences.

Some cursory comparison to "American Beauty" will be inevitable, but the world of "The Weather Man" is markedly sunnier -- these characters aren't chronically jaded, they're just a little unlucky. Or perhaps they're made of sterner moral stuff. Or, maybe, they're just a little more hopeful. Whatever the case, it makes all the difference in the world -- for them and for the audience. Starring Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine and Hope Davis. Directed by Gore Verbinski. Written by Steven Conrad. Produced by Todd Black, Steve Tisch and Jason Blumenthal. A Paramount release. Drama. Rated R for strong language and sexual content. Running time: 101 min

Tags: Nicolas Cage, Chicago, weather man, death, journalist, television, marriage, fight, food, frustration, Michael Caine, Gemmenne De la Pena, Nicholas Hoult, Hope Davis, Steven Conrad
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