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'The Weather Man'
'Weather Man' fails to get forecast right
Friday, October 28, 2005

The forecast for moviegoers who see "The Weather Man"?

Melinda Sue Gordon
In "The Weather Man," Nicolas Cage plays David Spritz, a popular TV weatherman who is on top of the world professionally even as his personal life is falling apart.
Click photo for larger image.


"The Weather Man"

Rating: R for strong language and sexual content.

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine.

Director: Gore Verbinski.

"The Weather Man" Web site

Gloom and a chance of depression, strong performances by Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine notwithstanding.

"Weather Man," directed by Gore Verbinski and written by Steven Conrad, is a drama for grown-ups about people coping with mortality, disappointment, marriages that don't have fairytale endings and children who can't see the danger lurking around the corner or (thankfully) understand the ugliness of a nasty nickname.

In other words, it's perilously close to real life, except the main character makes way more money than most of us and is famous for being on television.

David Spritz (Cage) is a Chicago forecaster who earns $240,000 for two hours of work a day standing in front of a blank green screen and reading a TelePrompTer. Or as he further describes it: "I receive a large reward for pretty much zero effort and contribution."

He's not a meteorologist and he doesn't seem to really comprehend the science of forecasting, just as he doesn't grasp the currents sweeping his life off course.

His father (Michael Caine), a prize-winning author once called a national treasure by President Carter, may be seriously ill. Uncouth viewers regularly lob food or drink -- Big Gulp here, Frosty there -- at Dave, and his estranged wife (Hope Davis, at her brittle best) looks as if she'd like to throw something at him, too.

She's none too happy when Dave takes their daughter (Gemmenne De la Pena) to a company party and brings her home with crutches. Their son (Nicholas Hoult), meanwhile, is out of rehab and falling under the spell of an untrustworthy friend.

The winds buffeting Dave's life are gaining hurricane-force strength, just as "Hello America" comes calling. It's a national morning show, co-hosted by Bryant Gumbel, played by ... Bryant Gumbel.

Dave clearly creates many of his own problems but he also has more than his share of trouble, bad luck and worse timing.

At moments, "The Weather Man" makes you feel like you're stuck in one of those January winters in Pittsburgh where life seems like one big salt stain or slushy pothole. Sure, you know the sun will shine again, but warmth and blue skies seem so far away.

Movies such as this are a delicate balancing act. Show us the mirror but don't let us be frightened by how it emphasizes the wrinkles and imperfections. As Caine's character tells his son, "Easy doesn't enter into grown-up life."

Or, sometimes, grown-up movies.

First published on October 28, 2005 at 12:00 am
Movie editor Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.
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