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When I first saw the advertisements for "The Weather Man", it seemed
like the movie was going to be another formulaic, feel good Hollywood
redemption tale. In reality, it is a dark, scathing satire of American
values. The marketing likely scared away a lot of people who would
enjoy the film, while attracting an audience who was presented with
something unexpected and perhaps uncomfortable. The comedy is quite
raunchy, the tone is bleak, and the story is anything but formulaic,
throwing industry conventions right out the window, which leads to a
film that's more believable than most.
David Spritz is a man whose life has become the ultimate exercise in futility. Each day, he wakes up and goes to a job that, despite paying a handsome salary, is entirely unfulfilling. His relationship with his ex-wife is strained, his relationship with his children distant. To make things worse, his Pulitzer Prize winning father seems to be disappointed in what David has done with his life.
In real life, progress in one's personal life is generally made in baby steps. Usually, people don't undergo a drastic transformation over the course of several months. David attempts to improve his standing in life, at times failing entirely, at times succeeding in small doses. The results of these attempts range from very funny to downright saddening, and this helps lend the film an air of realism. This is a complicated character study about a man coming to grips with the fact that he's failed to meet any of the goals he set for himself in life, despite attaining a social standing that many people are envious of. There aren't any easy answers or life altering epiphanies; self-improvement is a long, gradual task that will probably never be completely fulfilled, and "The Weather Man" reflects this reality. While not for all tastes, this movie deserves credit for tackling a relatively conventional subject in a very unconventional, at least for a mainstream Hollywood movie, manner. I imagine that this film will be a bigger success overseas and on DVD than it will be in its US theatrical run.
I've thought long and hard before saying what I'm about to say. I've
searched my memory for something to disprove it, but I can't think of
anything. Here it is: The Weather Man, the new film directed by Gore
Verbinski and written by Steve Conrad, is the most relentlessly
pessimistic mainstream American film that I have ever seen. It seems to
be telling us that over time you become a shell of the person you once
were and a pathetic, ever decreasing fraction of the person you one day
hoped to be. You will squander potential and become incapable of giving
meaningful love to anyone that you care about. This doesn't happen as a
result of some huge disaster or tragic mistake, no, this happens as a
result of hundreds of minuscule failures every day. As you might
imagine, this is excruciating to watch. But in creating one of bleakest
portraits of contemporary American life you will ever see, Gore
Verbinski also creates a film that is shockingly humane, funny, and
Nicolas Cage, who I don't always like, gives a fantastic performance as David Spritz, a Chicago TV weather man with no degree in meteorology. The thing that makes him great in The Weather Man is that he consistently plays the part in earnest. There's plenty of opportunities to ham it up or play it for laughs, especially because David acts like such an asshole so much of the time, but Cage never falls into those traps. One feels at every turn, no matter how disgraceful his behavior, that he's just a guy trying to do what seems right to him in that moment. At one point he drops his daughter off at his ex-wife's house. When his ex-wife, played with terrific subtly by Hope Davis, remains outside for a moment he suddenly decides to throw a snowball at her, which hits her in the face and cracks the lens of her glasses. Rather than playing it like it's funny, which it is, Cage seems like he's making a sincere attempt to connect with his former wife in any way he can.
I wish with great passion that this film was truly great, but unfortunately it's just inches short. Nine out of ten times Verbinski hits the mark. From the very first shot he creates a perfectly executed world of an ice bound Chicago during the winter months. His most impressive feat though is managing to craft a film that is in some ways highly stylized, yet instinctually feels like the human experience. He has a wonderful and surprising sense of composition. One finds the characters in disconcertingly angular frames with vast expanses of empty space above their heads. In tandem with this he uses a fantastically chilly color scheme throughout. He also triumphs in his insistently measured pacing. In contrast with such a harsh statement about life, the pacing serves to lend the film a strange gentleness that allows for us to feel the characters are truly human. The pacing is absolutely vital and absolutely brave in a Hollywood film. Along with the performances, it makes one feel that the characters are being not being tortured out of gleeful spite on the part of the filmmakers, but out of profound empathy and understanding of our shared human weaknesses.
Verbinski's trouble comes in just a few isolated areas; nevertheless they are important and significantly damage the film as a whole. The ugliest problem is a woefully ill-advised quasi dream sequence in which Nicholas Cage sees himself happy and well adjusted as the grand marshal of a parade. The whole thing is presented as if his hotel room window is like a TV on which he is seeing himself. It introduces us to no useful ideas and is an immensely distracting stylistic departure. I'm really puzzled by its inclusion in a movie that on the whole demonstrates a lot of restraint. Another issue is the handling of Cage's son, who gets himself involved in a weird molestation situation with his drug counselor. This subplot is painted in the broadest of strokes, rather than with the painstaking specificity one finds elsewhere. Every time we return to the plot with the son the film begins to feel bogged down and uncharacteristically unsure of itself. Some of the blame for this surely must be shared with Steve Conrad, the mostly solid writer of the film. One wonders why Conrad and Verbinski shy away from the unbending frankness they are generally so willing to dole out. There are a few other troubling mistakes, the blame for which I have to rest on both of their shoulders. Most notably the film relies too heavily on voice-over. While some of it works very well and all of it is delivered with sincerity from Cage, there is at least twice as much as is necessary. Similarly, there are a couple flashbacks that work, but just as many that are unneeded. Also, the handling of Cage's father, who is played with solemn dignity by Michael Cane, rings a little false. He is written as a noble and stalwart man devoid of any flaws not only in Cage's mind, but apparently in real life as well. On the whole this actually works much better than it should, but I can't help but feel that there's a note missing.
The aforementioned issues aside, The Weather Man is a rare achievement and one of my favorite films of the year. It is so honest and so bleak that I can't believe that a major studio let it get made. In an industry where schlock and melodrama are passed off as great statements about us as humans The Weather Man is monumentally refreshing. I have nothing but respect for Verbinski and Conrad for having the nerve to make a film that on the one hand is crushingly negative, but on the other endlessly humane.
This movie was a great piece of social commentary on the emptiness of
our current American culture. Being the weatherman appears to be a
great job. It pays almost $300 Grand a year, and you can afford a nice
apartment and a mansion for your beautiful blonde ex-wife and your two
A job as a weatherman, without a meteorological degree entails absolutely no challenges. You become lazy and bored, because you think you have everything. After all, isn't the entire purpose of life to make money, drive nice cars, and wear nice clothes, and eat out every night of the week? You are able to spoil your children, hence never teaching them the value of challenging themselves and depriving them of ever working toward a goal and feeling satisfied.
This is what we think living is today in this country! We have no depth! We have toxic vocabulary, eat useless toxic food, we watch useless toxic entertainment, and we have completely useless jobs that create nothing. We wonder why our children have no idea what to do with themselves? Wealthy Americans, which most of us are by the standards of the world, have no skills, no integrity, and no character. The only things our children grow up knowing for sure, are what a Frosty is, and a Big Gulp. The gap between this generation and their grandparents is vast. Our elders worked hard at jobs which created the foundation of wealth and substance that we erode every day with our irresponsible selfish consumerist conduct. Mr. Spritz has no idea what a Big Gulp is, but he's dying of the cancer that eats this country.
The Weatherman (Nicholas Cage) has a better time with himself, and everyone else as soon as he figures this out. Hilariously, he had to actually get hit in the head with a Big Gulp. We need to focus on the things that matter, take responsibility for our children, and ourselves. The one thing that I think was off in the movie was the line about how being an adult does not include the word easy. The big secret to life, is that when we do things the correct way, often the hard way, life actually gets easier, for everyone.
I went to the theater expecting the usual vacuous Hollywood bomb. I was blown away with the power of this movie. On the way out, we asked a young man that was working the theater what he thought. He said that he thought The Weatherman was incredibly dark and very far fetched. I agree, our culture is dark and far fetched. The movie, however, was dead on. Our current life is a bubble about to burst. This movie offered a solution - find some meaning in your life and get after it. Pretending this vacuum doesn't exist, and that Jessica and Ashley Simpson are talented individuals worth our time and interest, is incredibly bleak to me. On the other hand, I was pretty sure this young man had no idea the scale of these problems. How could he, when he has never experienced anything else.
Thankfully Hollywood has made a movie that values our integrity and
intelligence. Here is a film showing us that life is beautiful but
challenging and requires a little bit of work to move through. Through
its protagonist, we encounter daily frustrations of every type, from
conjugal discord to simple dissatisfaction's with our everyday
existence. Nicholas Cage might not have the extended range of
performers like Penn or Brando, but he does competent work here. He
earns our sympathy and our attention with some of the best work he has
"The Weather Man" is an extended metaphor for what goes on in our lives every day. The film apparently didn't charm the pants off a few members of the audience when I saw it. It didn't have the prepackaged bombs and special effects. It lacked enough vulgarity to appeal to those people;instead it had one of the most touching and intelligent scripts in the last year. Attendance might be down, and ironically quality is up in Hollywood. "The Weather Man" deals with real issues such as insecurity, love, and trust. It presents scenarios where the audience might become uncomfortable looking at an aspect of their lives they might not like. Here is a parent who is challenged by his inability to connect with his own children, who appears to have unsurmountable challenges dealing with a spouse, and who is now not very sure his job is truly what he always wanted.
Michael Caine once again shines in his supporting role as the father who can't communicate with his son, and has now pressing issues to deal with before it's too late. Hope Davis does a bit of against-type work with a woman who might be lacking in the warmth department. Both are impeccable and very effective in their performances.
Verbinsky keeps a leisured pace, allowing the audience to meditate and understand how critical this stage of his life is for Dave (Cage). This is a sink or swim situation, and he must do some careful reevaluation in order to succeed. Whether he is able or not, is one of the joys of the film. This movie will be remembered for its depth and quality, for its attention to detail, as well as its realistic approach. It's a 10!
The cusp of the dreaded mid-life crisis. The realization that life
sucks either because you've removed the rose colored glasses or because
you've been hit by one of life's ice balls. While at the point where
you still believe in happy endings and hold on to the possibility that
if one good thing happens everything else will fall into place.
So the story begins...Dave Spritz is a Chicago weatherman. As the events of his life get worse he begins to put all his faith in a dream job in New York as a national weatherman. He believes this job will magically restore his failing marriage, his relationship with this kids and garner him the respect from his father (Michael Caine)he so desires.
The ability to find humor in life's tragedies is an accomplishment that director, writer and cast can all be proud of. The comedy in this movie came just often enough to hold back the tears. It was a real life character study and of course Nicholas Cage and Michael Caine were absolutely superb.
What makes the movie so wonderful is that it is based on premises we all know but often forget. 1)Money doesn't buy happiness. 2)The little things mean a lot. 3)To quote the film, "The hard thing to do and the right thing to do are usually the same thing."
I saw a screening of this tonight, and I was very impressed. I expected a rather shallow comedy, but instead, received a well-thought out and delivered work which was insightful, quirky, funny and touching film which was far above my expectations. Cage delivers a great performance as usual, and the father-son relationship between Cage and Caine was authentic and balanced. This is not just a comedy, but is a study of the importance of family, and an overlying existential questioning of what our lives are all about. I highly recommend it for men and women alike. On a side note... Verbinski's works are diverse, fun, and interesting, and this is no exception.
I can already tell that people are going to have very strong reactions
to The Weather Man. People are either going to love it or hate it.
They're going to find it shockingly hilarious or just plain shocking. I
loved it and found it hilarious, but I'm not easily offended (I do a
show with Jegar, how can anything offend me?). There were many
instances where I was the only person laughing in the theater. For
instance, Michael Caine, who plays Robert Spritz, tells his son David
Spritz (played by Nicolas Cage) that David's daughter is getting teased
at school and called "Camel Toe". Just to hear Sir Michael Caine use
the expression "camel toe" is pretty unexpected. But then various shots
of camel toes pop up on the screen to illustrate this phenomenon to
anyone in the audience who's unfamiliar with the concept. I found it
all absurdly hilarious, but I don't think many of the grey-haired
audience shared my sentiments.
This movie was not at all like I was expecting. The Weather Man is crass and silly, but it's also extremely dark and sad. David Spritz is a sad, lonely man who's trying to reconcile with this ex-wife and get his family back together, but despite his best intentions, things just never work out the way he wants. More than anything, he wants to prove to his dying father that he can be a great man too, but time is running out. This is not your typical comedy. It's not easy to watch sometimes, but according to Robert Spritz, "Easy doesn't enter into grown-up life."
Summary: A middle aged weather man with a failing family life, sick
parent and dull job copes with his life and aspires to move to a
national TV show.
A great movie about the modern dilemma. It is about American society and its problems seen through the life of one guy. It talks about his problems, his mortality, his moral failings, and his caring soul as well. Nicely written, great photography of Lake Michigan covered in ice. Lots of great scenes where Nicholas Cage pull off difficult performances. Many sadly comic scenes including a dream sequence with Sponge Bob that is a wonderfully surreal.
I am afraid that disapproving critics don't understand the deep irony and existential humor like a Kurt Vonnegut novel. Nothing illustrates this better than the scene where Cage's character sees the giant balloon of Sponge Bob floating by. The meaning and meaningless of life together with family and ambition together with human frailty come together wonderfully and with humor.
Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean X3, The Ring, The Mexican) has
an uncanny way of moving strange characters through bizarre plots while
maintaining our interest and our empathy. THE WEATHER MAN was so poorly
promoted when it hit the theaters that it seemed like it was going to
be one of those asinine food throwing slapstick comedies instead of the
very serious examination of contemporary life in the big cities, or
even more about the struggle of a disillusioned man who cannot find a
balance between business success and family/marital failure, it is.
This viewer almost ignored it completely - until the DVD.
David Spritz (Nicholas Cage) is a TV pawn the station uses as a weatherman: he is untrained as a meteorologist, skilled only be his TV persona success dependent on a created gag/tag line - the Nipper (the peak worst day in the forecast). His personal life is a mess, separated from a disconsolate wife Noreen (Hope Davis), distanced from his successful writer father Robert (Michael Caine) and on shaky territory with his two children - fat and sad Sully (Gemmenne de la Peña) and sweet but troubled pothead Mike (Nicholas Hoult). To make life worse his TV persona follows him into the streets of blustery Chicago where his viewers either seek autographs invading his privacy or throw food at him as the progenitor of the lousy cold weather. This polarized existence is invaded by an offer to become weatherman on Bryan Gumbel's Hello America show in New York (a career jump for which he longs for many reasons), serial confrontations with his father whom he emulates but always feels a failure, the finding that his father has lymphoma, the ridicule of fat Shelly at school, Mike's edgy involvement with his drug counselor Don (Gil Bellows), and Noreen's new live-in Russ (Michael Rispoli). How David meanders through this quagmire of dilemmas is the story and while it is not pretty, it is pungent.
Cage inhabits the strange role of David finding a way to make this loser with a short temper someone about whom we care. It is a tough assignment but Cage meets it on every level. Michael Caine provides some of the more eloquent moments in the film: his words of wisdom and view of life are the only grounded elements of the story. Likewise Hope Davis is fine as are the cameo roles of the children as sensitively played by de la Peña and Hoult. The subject of the film is tough and the excessive use of potty mouth language is overbearing and at times one wishes Verbinski would have edited some of the gross food slinging scenes.
But as an overall message movie there is much here to admire. It simply is not the mindless slapstick the posters and trailers would indicate. The PR folks on this one blew it. Worth your time and attention. Grady Harp
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
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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