Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Weather Man

The Weather Man (Director: Gore Verbinski)

Verbinski is one of the hottest directors going right now; he directed mega-hits The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean (and its soon-to-follow sequels). Before those films, he did the entertaining Mouse Hunt and what is generally considered a huge failure, The Mexican, a movie that isn't great by any means but I kinda liked. Written by Steven Conrad (Wrestling Ernest Hemingway).

Verbinski seems to have a handle on pop entertainment, but he is hard to figure as far as what he brings to an individual film. Just glancing at the movies above, he doesn't want to be pigeonholed into the same genres. What seems to be a trait in most of those films is allowing his actors to possibly go into a wilder space than normal, witnessing Johnny Depp in POTC, Nathan Lane and Lee Evans in Mouse Hunt, and Brad Pitt in The Mexican. Perhaps that's a bunch of crap on my part, but it's hard to be certain. Verbinski could very well be a Joel Schumacher in the making, a guy who can be dependable to bring you your picture under budget and on time, and if it comes out good, then more power to him, if not, there will be other pictures.

Now, we have one of the biggest goofball actors of all time, Nicolas Cage, playing Chicago weatherman David Spritz. Spritz is going through a lot of crap, lately. He's divorced, he's having trouble relating to his kids, people always bother him on the street about weather predictions, and worst of all, people are chucking fast food at him from moving vehicles. On top of that, he's sweating about getting a national Al Roker job with a program called "Hello, America" in New York, and his dad Robert (Michael Caine) has lymphoma. His former wife Noreen (Hope Davis) reveals that she hated him, and his daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Pena) is being called a nickname I'd rather not write lest we get some true weirdoes on this site (hint: it has to do with, um, camels), and his son Mike (About A Boy's Nicholas Hoult) is being courted by his guidance counsellor (Gil Bellows) for a very special episode of "Diff'rent Strokes" (yeah, that episode).

Obviously, with a plotline like that, we have some dark material here. Nicolas Cage turns in yet another fine screw-up performance. His face and his downbeat voice reveal a whole lot of pain, and it's often funny and tragic at the same time. Michael Caine turns in a sublime performance. Everything he says is very straightforward and without any trace of emotion (but yet, with Caine's abilities, he somehow finds subtle emotion within the character), so when he describes the reasons behind Shelly's unfortunate nickname, or tries to discuss other awful situations, it's very funny. And I have a thing for Hope Davis.

Where the movie will lose people, and where I had some issues as well, as this isn't exactly a perfect film, and we can see why it got pushed back for months from it's original April release date, is that some of these subplots don't make much of a difference. The whole guidance counsellor thing has almost no impact, and it's supposed to bring Spritz out of his shell, but there are a great many other things that are more important to the story. Plus, the movie just pounds you with failures, which isn't going to be good for its box office. And there's some big comparisons between life and fast food, and "swirling in the wind" (sort of Forrest Gumpian) that might ring either false or overdone.

But overall, this is funny and engaging, and I found myself liking it a great deal.


At 10/27/2005 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I was really looking forward to this about a year ago, and then it just kept getting pushed back and back. Usually that doesn't bode well, but judging from your review and a few others I've read it looks like it turned out just fine. Which makes one wonder why it kept getting reshuffled in the releases. Who knows? Well, I'm looking forward to it again.

At 10/27/2005 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

The main thing, as we've seen from many of the releases that have been pushed back this year, is that it's a difficult sell. The trailers are good, but the movie is a lot darker. I think Paramount tried to find that perfect release date, which is impossible. I think your movie is going to make the money it's destined to make, no matter the date.

At 10/27/2005 06:38:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I've always thought that as well. The fact is what you and I might find to be outstanding films the majority of America may not; hence bad box office. Whatever appeals to the masses for whatever reasons will pay out big, whatever doesn't won't.


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