Dave Spritz is a local weatherman in his home town of Chicago, where his career is going well while his personal life -- his relationship with his perfectionist writer father, his neurotic ex-wife, and his now-separated children -- is spiraling downward. Despite being both loathed and loved by the local masses, Dave is a guy who doesn't seem to have it all together, and in this film, he begins to feel it. An attractive job offer presents Dave with a major question: to pursue his career in New York City, or to remain at home with his family. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. So Close. This is painfully close to being a great film. Although still very good at presenting issues normally not seen on film, director Gore Verbinski ("Pirates of the Caribbean" "The Ring") falls just short of making a very powerful statement.
Please do not let the trailer fool you. This is not slapstick comedy like "Anchorman". This is deep, often dark subject matter addressing the emotional struggles men face when dealing with a bad divorce, trying to maintain a relationship with kids, and the pressures of trying to make one's own dad proud (or at least gain acceptance). So often Hollywood deals with the plight of the woman and her emotional turmoil. Instead we are "treated" with watching a man's attempt to live up to (what he thinks are) expectations of others and how somehow the right job will make everything OK ... his life will be whole.
Nicolas Cage gives another outstanding performance as "The Weather Man" on a Chicago TV station. To add to the complexity, he is not a meteorologist and he is being courted by a national morning talk show featuring Bryant Gumbel. Two areas with this character are poorly written in my opinion. First, Cage's hair weave is bloody awful. At least in Dallas, weather men all look like Televangelists with perfect hair. His is always askew ... don't they have hair/make-up staff in Chicago? Second, the character is written as too much of a loser in all aspects. He is not just struggling, he is not someone any guy or girl would want to hang with. The film tries, but fails, to show the "switch" come on when Cage steps in front of the camera. They tell us this happens, but it needed to be presented much clearer.
Playing Cage's father, Michael Caine is a pretty intimidating figure as he is confused about his son's direction in life while at the same time facing a very dark future of his own. Caine is wonderful in the role and when he tells his son "Sometimes in life, you just have to chuck it", we really get it and hope that Cage does as well.
On the other hand, Hope Davis is cast as yet another frigid "B" yuppie whom I don't understand how any man could be attracted to. Yet somehow this is the woman Cage wants back. Time to stretch your talent a bit Hope. You showed plenty of promise in "About Schmidt" and have been working steadily since. But to take the next step as an actress, you need to try a new character. Gil Bellows ("Aly McBeal") has a creepy role as Cage's teenage son's counselor. He is responsible for some of the most uncomfortable moments as well as a way for Cage to finally cut loose.
As I said, this is a very good movie that falls just short of greatness. While providing insight into the male psyche, it fails to deliver the message or solution it seemed to be leading up to. However, it is nice to see a man portrayed as something other than a superhero, adulterer, international spy or Olympic caliber lover.
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