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Monday, June 4, 2012



"Hello, America."
-- Dave Spritz

The Weather Man is a 2005 dramatic comedy directed by Gore Verbinski. It tells the story of a TV weatherman named Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage) who is desperately attempting to land a job on the nationally-syndicated show Hello, America. Recently separated - and possibly divorced? - from his wife Noreen (Hope Davis), Dave has a slew of issues that are keeping him from both pursuing his dream as well as being happy as an individual. He is constantly working to impress his father Robert (Michael Caine), an accomplished and awarded author who develops a rapidly-spreading case of lymphoma, leaving Dave little time to gain his ultimate approval. At the same time, he must handle the troubles of his son Mike (Nicholas Hoult) and his daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Peña), who are both struggling to find happiness in their own lives. As his world starts to spiral out of control, Dave tries to keep everything together as Hello, America comes knocking at his door.

Since this film was released in 2005, I've always been drawn to watching it. Whenever there proved to be a time, however, I usually dismissed it and chose something that seemed a tad bit more entertaining. Fortunately for the film, I have finally taken the time to sit down and give it a view; unfortunately, I cannot say that all my waiting was worth it.

I'm going to start with the acting because that's where I have the least issue. I know that there are plenty of people out there who are adamantly against Nicolas Cage as an actor, but I do think that he has quite the performing ability when given a proper script and character. One need only look toward films like 2002's Adaptation. or 2005's Lord of War, where he was able to bring forth fantastic performances. Sure, in recent years, he's delved into some questionable roles, but my opinions and views of Cage are not for this time or this post. Rather, I would like to say that he's serviceable here in The Weather Man, but I think he could have brought a little bit more to the screen. Our supporting cast works well, with special mention going to ever-splendid Caine and to the young Gemmenne de la Peña, who proved to be one of the better actors on-screen. Davis and Hoult are okay, but they're not really bringing much. Also be on the watch for a relatively funny cameo from Bryant Gumbel as the host of Hello, America.

No, the issue with The Weather Man isn't the acting; it's the screenplay. The films is billed as a dramatic comedy, which generally fashions some interesting films. Some recent examples of splendid dramatic comedies include the 2011 films Beginners and The Descendants. Where those films - as well as other films in the genre - succeed is in their script and their tone, which is ultimately dictated by the screenplay. The storyline in The Weather Man proves to be just a little too muddled for the audience's attention. There's so many things happening all at once that it's a tad bit difficult to maintain one's focus on one facet of the storyline. Should we care about Dave's job aspirations? Or his attempts to appease his father? Or perhaps we should focus on his failing marriage? There are ways to blend all of these things together, but The Weather Man doesn't find a way to do just that.

One of the biggest problems, however, is the issue of one. As the genre dictates, a dramatic comedy will have ample doses of both drama and comedy. Successful films will find a way to blend the two together in such a manner that keeps the storyline flowing seamlessly. We'll be able to laugh at the dramatic moments, and we'll feel emotion at the comedic bits. That's the sign of a great dramatic comedy. The Weather Man, however, feels a little bit jumpy, almost as though it can't quite figure out which type of film it wants to be. One moment, we're watching a drama. The next, we're delving into drama. And we go back and forth and back and forth, never quite getting that wonderful blend that we so desire. Instead, we're getting a choppy look at a man's life that's filled with dry humor, but it doesn't flow continuously. The film just has a strange feel to it.

At the end of the day, The Weather Man is a serviceable film that doesn't really burst off the screen. I had high hopes for the flick, but I do have to say that it underwhelmed. Still, we're getting a solid performance from Nic Cage, and the movie does have its moments. Just don't expect it to blow you away or anything.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: C
Should You Watch It? Maybe

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