Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Weather Man (2005) Review

The Weather Man posterDirector: Gore Verbinski
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis
Genre: Drama, Black Comedy

As I'll mention in all my reviews of any film with Nick Cage, I am a huge Nicolas Cage fan. I absolutely love him. He's the craziest actor of all-time and never has he failed to get me to laugh. In my opinion there is not a bad Nick Cage movie, or at least not an unenjoyable one. The Weather Man is no different.

We follow a weather man named Dave, played by Cage. His life is falling apart. His wife no longer loves him, his daughter is dealing with problems at school, his son also has his set of troubles and is at one point molested by his counselor, he's struggling to gain his father's acceptance, which proves even harder when he finds out his father only has a few months left to live. His life is a mess. But he tries to sort it all out.

The story is what you'd expect really, it's nothing we haven't seen before. The ending, though optimistic and relevant, is a bit cheap and unsatisfying. A good moral though. Quite honestly, to me, if it wasn't for Nick Cage this would just be another mediocre film about some asshole's mid-life crisis. But ther film does have merit. 

But Nick Cage is not the only one who deserves credit. Michael Caine is in here and does a good job as well.

All the acting actually feels weird though. I can't really call it good acting but I'm also hesitant to call it bad. At first I thought it felt very artificial and contrived, but then I realized that it felt more awkward than anything. I'm not sure if it's intentionally awkward acting, but I'd assume it is because there are some pretty good actors in here.

But the awkward acting suites the film. It captures how it feels when talking to a family member which you fail to feel comfortable with or close to. That's what this film is showcasing; a family that isn't close to one another. The entire family here never feels like a typical happy family you'd expect to see in a movie. They're awkward with each other and they never really click with each other. This is a good thing though, because they're not supposed to be a happy family.

Nicolas Cage and Michael Caine in The Weather Man

Anyone who has felt discomfort or anxiety when talking to a family member can relate to the characters in this film. Anyone who has thought their father might be disappointed in them, or that their kids don't love them, can definitely relate. Have you ever said something to a family member just because you didn't know what else to say, but when you hear yourself say it it just sounds stupid and forced? Well, this film captures that perfectly.

Later on in the film, as father and son become a bit closer, therefore more comfortable with each other, the acting and on-screen chemistry actual improves, further supporting the idea that it was intentional.

Nick Cage's character is an asshole. Well, no, not completely. It manages to strike that nice balance between an asshole and likable character. Because you really do feel a bit bad for this guy, and you can see that he's really trying his hardest to make everything work out. He's a well developed character with his obvious flaws and characteristics. 

Cage in The Weather Man

For a film called The Weather Man it actually makes good use of the weather. Often in scenes there's a snowstorm, or a light flurry, or a rainstorm, or maybe a sunny day. It's not much but it was a nice touch; exploring the different shades of nature as the main character explored the shades of relationships.

And, after all, that's the metaphor. The main character was obviously a weather man to draw comparisons between the unpredictability of the weather and the unpredictability of people and relationships and life in general.

I thought the whole archery thing was a nice touch as well (though at first I thought this was going to turn into Falling Down or something). Anyway who knows anything about Zen or meditation might understand. It obviously drew influences from Zen in the Art of Archery, the philosophic book by Eugen Herrigel.

Nick Cage drawing back a bow and arrow in The Weather Man

As for the humor of this film...well, it's fucking hilarious. But, and a big but here, only if you're a Nick Cage fan. If there was anyone else playing the main character here I'm not sure it would be very funny. But there's some classic Cage craziness in here and any fan of Nick Cage's madness will be greatly satisfied. I laughed nearly non-stop through the film. Cage calls people "Dildos" and beats up a pedophile. Awesome.

This film also has some of the weirdest product placement I've ever seen...ever. At one point a giant SpongeBob SquarePants parade balloon floats past Nick Cage's window. And perhaps the oddest of all: people constantly throw food at Nick Cage. Like a lot of times. And every time they make a point of saying what was thrown at him, but it's never just "soda" or "shake" or "apple pie" no, it's "Big Gulp" or "Frostee" or "McDonald's Apple Pie." This is perhaps one of the oddest ways to advertise a product. But in the film they also talk bad about fast food and the fact that it's unhealthy. Perhaps them trying to redeem themselves from all the blatant product placement? There's also a ton of McDonald's restaurants shown in here. It's weird.

Yet I'm not sure if it's truly shameless product placement. I'm never a fan of obvious product placement in films, or any at all, but in here it actually has something to do with the story. After having a bunch of fast food chucked at him, the main character realizes that he too is like fast food. "Always fast food. Fast food. Things that people would rather throw out than finish. It's easy, it tastes all right, but it doesn't really provide you any nourishment. I'm fast food." I'm not sure if I like this or hate it. 


Nick Cage surrounded by fast food in The Weather Man

A highly enjoyable film, greatly due to Nick Cage's performance, but still a very well crafted film. 

Recommended for: Fans of Nick Cage, fans of any other cast or crew, fans of Black Comedy, weather men (?)

4/5 stars
Pros:
+Great acting and portrayal of a distanced family
+Hilarious Nick Cage moments
+Some interesting metaphors and inspirations
Cons:
-Weird product placement (?)
-Greatly relies on Cage's performance

Purchase The Weather Man on Amazon (you can find it very cheap) : DVD - Stream
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