DVD Review: The Weather Man

Posted in Reviews on July, 20 2006 11:10 AM

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis
Cert: 15

David Spritz (Cage) is a bright and breezy weatherman on a Chicago news channel. Unfortunately for him weather prediction isn't an exact science and Chicago weather can vary from one extreme to the other overnight so the locals take their forecasts very seriously. Spritz has managed to develop this love/hate relationship with his public; on the one hand he is a television celebrity but on the other he doesn't really do much to warrant that status and what he does do is spurious at best.

There is more to Spritz than Joe Public knows. For starters, he mostly just wants to be left alone when out and about which is deemed as rude by his 'fans'. Also, he is a constant target of ridicule and fast-food missiles so he nearly always turning up to family events with milkshake or burger relish down his clothes.

And then there's his family. Award winning novelist father (Caine), divorced wife (Davis) and two dysfunctional teenage kids: a recreational drug-taking boy and overweight, uninspired daughter.

It's bad enough that Spritz is always trying to aspire to his father's high standards but to have him constantly tell him where he's going wrong is almost unbearable.

Every time he tries to do something right, something comes along to kick him down again. He wants his boy to go straight and so gets him into rehab, he wants his daughter to lose weight and take an interest in something and he wants his ex-wife to love him again so they go to counselling.

There's a big prospective job in New York, which he thinks will solve all their problems. Getting out of Chicago will stop the attacks, the rise in status will make his father proud, the increase in salary will get his family together again.

But with every silver lining is the cloud.

Cage's David Spritz is just your run-of-the-mill put upon, average Joe. His narrative constantly reminds you that he knows that there isn't anything special about him but he wants there to be. He's not a selfish man and strives for the best for all of his family but he's not sure how to make it happen. He's always zipping backwards and forwards trying to be all things to everyone but never sure what he's supposed to be for himself.

There's nothing funnier than seeing a man suddenly get doused in an indiscriminate, yet deliberate, slush puppy and Cage's reaction is an art in itself. There is the total shock of the projectile (even though he's probably done the take a dozen times already) but at the same time there's the depressed acceptance that this is just a normal, everyday, occurrence for him. Then Spritz turns into an almost obsessive-compulsive; detailing the product during conversation whether it be solid or liquid, where it has originated from and what its flavour is.

But whereas a box of doughnuts to his head causes, relatively, little consternation, some of the more minor irritations has him flying off the handle like he has tourettes.

Caine is wonderfully understated and plays off Cage's neurotic paranoia well. He's a very clever man and caring parent who is genuinely confused by the things he sees happening to his son and so will ask for answers to questions that should really be rhetorical and we see where Spritz may have developed his attention for the smaller details from.

The Weather Man is a comedy of errors with Spritz often quite deserving of the trouble he gets himself into; he can be a bit of an idiot. It's also a comedy of social horrors; the things a parent has to deal with as their children start to turn into adults and the awkwardness of having to confront them with adult situations.

It was a surprisingly funny film made all the better by the solid cast who can deliver the emotional depth to make you care about what you're watching.

Special Features
A few featurettes that claim to focus on different aspects of the creation of the film but seem to come over as quite samey. It's mostly padding and could've been condensed into the one featurette. They contain the usual mutual backslapping from everyone, the backstory of the film and a few cast interviews with interesting comments but doesn't offer any real insight.


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