Okay, loyal readers, here’s an unofficial list. Signs you know you’re watching a Nicolas Cage film: 1. There’s a surefire melancholy score of upbeat tempos, and downbeats. 2. There’s always a dim filter on the lens, usually with varying shades of gray or blue. 3. Cage is likely playing a glum, and or sad character; you can usually tell by looking at his frown plastered on his face throughout the film. 4. There’s narration, narration, narration, and plenty of it. Not useful narration either, but just to spell out every single action that can easily be dictated through competent editing and direction. 5. There’s usually a slow motion sequence here or there. 6. There’s always a character revelation. 7. His character usually has bad hair, only to accentuate his feeling of inferiority.
Now is this a successful formula? Or recycled films? That, my friends, is the question. I’ll take the latter. I’ll be honest, I was truly looking forward to watching this film. With such a great cast, and a very interesting premise, I was disappointed to see that there was really nothing here but another typical Cage installment in his résumé. What’s most misleading about “The Weatherman” is that the trailers allude to the fact that he carries a bow and arrow for the second half of the film as a form of self defense, when really it’s not true. He rarely ever uses the bow and arrow at all. His reasons for using a bow and arrow is never explored to the fullest. Is it for taking control, self defense, or maintaining his manhood? Who the fuck knows? It’s alluded he starts learning archery as self-defense and maintaining his presence. I guess long, sharp sticks impaling someone is less violent than bullets, but what the hell do I know?
“The Weatherman” is anything but offbeat, and it’s yet another film about Cage’s character examining his life and moping for nearly two hours. We’ve seen movies like this from Cage before, and after watching movies like “Adaptation”, and “The Family Man”, I really didn’t care to see it anymore. The film is filled with utterly unlikable characters that fill the life of a man who is also unlikable, so it’s hard to feel sympathy for him when we feel antipathy, and the writers beg us to sympathize for a man who barks at fans, and doesn’t care to know anyone. Either he’s a complete moron, or the people around him are complete pricks. The writer can never decide, really, and the mope fest never feels fully fleshed out or original. The characters here are selfish, so despicable, and so self-centered, that they can never stop to realize that perhaps they’re trailing away from the very people that could help them.
Verbinski’s film is a rather saccharine exploration of Dave Spritz, a weatherman whose life is in constant disarray, yet he has no idea how to fix if. He’s a basic impotent shell of a man who has no idea how to live up to the standards he sets. And he’s a failure when he compares himself to his father, and he attempts to live up to his standards often. Though his dad, a Pulitzer prize winner, really doesn’t expect much from him, Dave feels he has to please him. Michael Caine gives an utterly excellent performance as a man who seems frustrated and disappointed by his son, when really he’s just trying to get him to grow up and start taking his responsibilities seriously. The paradox being that Caine’s character doesn’t take Dave’s job seriously, and Dave wants to be taken seriously, however Dave contradicts that sentiment by later describing his job as a walk in the park with amusement explaining how it’s only two hours work and getting paid up the ass. Dave’s character is filled constantly with that sort of dichotomous emotion.
“The Weatherman” is helped thanks in whole to its utterly great cast whom all pull in remarkable performances. Michael Caine as Dave’s long suffering father who is intent on getting his son to re-assert his priorities and get it together, and Hope Davis (who is always great) as Dave’s ex-wife Noreen who is desperate to bring Dave close to his children, yet alienates him through her overbearing haggard nagging. Davis’ performance is top notch as always, and her performance as the unlikable Noreen is engrossing. Cage, who also gives a good performance is interesting as Dave, a man who has no idea who he is, and worst of all he has no idea who his family are. His son Mike (“About a Boy’s” Nicholas Hault) is slowly being manipulated by an ex-counselor who is also a pedophile, while his daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Peña) has taken up smoking and is being called a cruel name in school.
“The Weatherman” has genuine dramatic and comedic moments that are helped by the great actors including one scene where Noreen and Dave confront each other after marriage counseling, and a particularly gripping climax where Dave and his dad Robert finally settle issues between each other. How many times can you see the same mediocre movie again and again? Save for “Adaptation”, “The Weatherman” is yet another retread of Cage’s weak formula of a gloomy man examining his life. Though the film is saved with a great cast, great performances and a very gripping climax between Cage and Caine, this is just another paycheck for Cage. I was conflicted with this, admittedly; though it’s forgettable, it presents many good points.