The Weather Man

Predicting the weather is a breeze for David Spritz (Nicholas Cage), but predicting how his dysfunctional family behaves is stormy in this dark comedy.  David tries his best to provide for his fractured family.  Overweight daughter Shelly constantly changes her mind about what she wants in life.  Son, Mike,  goes to drug counselling sessions.  Then there’s father Robert (Michael Caine), a prize winning author who seems to constantly be on his back about what little he has achieved in life.  David’s ex wife Noreen (Hope Davis) still has to put up with David’s strange behaviour, as he becomes more desperate to please them, and to be ‘worthy’ in their eyes.  An upcoming promotion may do just that - if only he can overcome his insecurities which has previously held him back.
Director Gore Verbinski spins a quirky tale of American life, and the expectations that come with it.  David tries so hard to be a real person, that he fails at every turn.  He feels pressure to live up to the heights achieved by his father, and wants approval for his achievements in life.  Nicholas Cage is perfectly suited to the role, as his mannerisms perfectly capture the conflict that David feels, with his TV fame and his family troubles.  Even though his character can be very unlikeable, you can’t help but feel sympathy for him, and cheer when he eventually sees through his behaviour.  When David stops hating himself, can he truly move on with his life.
The cinematography is used very well, capturing the bleak snowy winter, that parallels with the emotional coldness of David’s family. Michael Caine’s character has wanted more from his son and doesn’t understand David’s job, and why he would be famous for just reading the weather report.  Caine, being the accomplished actor that he is, shows just how his character could have affected his son’s life, but that underneath he has only wanted the best for him.  The comic timing that Caine uses is excellent, and his scenes with Cage bring genuine pathos to proceedings.
Hope Davis plays his exasperated former wife very well, wanting to make sure her children don’t get caught up in David’s constant despair. It’s easy to see why her character would have left him, as she wants to have the dream of the ‘perfect family’, which he couldn’t provide.  The actors playing the children are very good, with the son trying to overcome his reactions to his parents split.  When he gets unwanted attention from a male counsellor, this makes him see his father in a new light in a surprising way.
This is a very bleak satire which works, due to the strong ensemble cast and the witty screenplay.  The problems of emotional insecurity and redemption are well handled, which give the story a sense of genuine realism.  The plot takes turns at being hilarious to being poignant in equal measure, and is a success at both.  An understated gem that grows on you long after the first viewing.
Rating out of 10:   8

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