Weather Man

If a filmmaker makes a character purposefully unlikable, and the person watching dislikes the character, does that mean that the movie is "good?" Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Ring) and screenwriter Steve Conrad (Wresting Ernest Hemingway) did such a thing with the main character in The Weather Man. Come to think of it, they did it for pretty much all of the characters in the movie. This is a portrait of David Spritz (Nicholas Cage, Lord of War, National Treasure). He's a local celebrity, receptacle for thrown fast food, divorced father of two, and seriously depressed. The Weather Man wallows in Spritz's misery, creating a drooping feeling for the duration of the movie. This tries to be a dark comedy, and tries to be a drama, and never really reaches both.

If anything, Cage is the perfect actor for this role. His performance does work, even if the rest of the movie doesn't. He has big puppy dog eyes that convey the chasms of depression Spritz is in. Cage also has this weird manic tic about him that matches Spritz' repressed rage. His father (Michael Caine, Bewitched, Batman Begins), a Pulitzer Prize winning author, looks down upon Spritz's profession. He doesn't do this overtly, but cuts him down with terse comments. Spritz does not get along with his wife Noreen (Hope Davis, Proof, Duma), and his kids Mike (Nicholas Hoult, About a Boy, Intimate Relations) and Shelly (Gemmenne de la Pena, Erin Brockovich) are distant. He feels like an utter failure as a son and a father.

Hooked yet? The dour mood permeates the entire film. The only bright spot in Spritz's life is his job. To paraphrase, he is paid a lot to read lines a few times a day. He is aspiring for a national job with Bryant Gumbel on Hello America. However, the continual rage that people direct at him for forecasting the weather incorrectly is a constant source of grief. At some point during the film, the depression gives way to anger, and Spritz realizes he needs to take his life back. He wants to get back together with Noreen, who is already in a new relationship. He tries spending more time with Mike (who is spending time with a creepy counselor) and Shelly (who is having image issues) to no avail. And he tries to learn meteorology.

It all boils down to a sense of identity. Spritz has none, and he wants one. Sure he's a weatherman, but in the big picture, does it really mean anything? He tries grasping at every possible thing. Maybe celebrity and money will help him. Maybe a family identity will make him feel better. Spritz's life fell apart one piece at a time, and Verbinski and Conrad allow audiences to peek into his life as he hits rock bottom and tries to build his way back up. It's a potentially interesting story, but an emotional vacuum. Spritz is basically a jerk, and the despite his many troubles, it is still hard to empathize with him. Verbinski also paces The Weather Man slowly, matching the way that Spritz must feel moving through life. The result? Boring.

Haro Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 42 minutes, Rated R for strong language and sexual content.

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