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The Weather Man
Nicholas Cage has starred in some spectacularly good movies, so I was looking forward to seeing The Weather Man, even more so as it's billed as a comedy, rather than the action movie he's more usually associated with.
Sadly though, having watched it, I can't find many good things to say about this one.
The trailers for the film were mildly amusing -- they showed a few funny moments, and made out that it was a comedy. But after sitting through the whole film, I can safely say that those few moments from the trailers were in fact the only parts of the film that were at all funny, and even they were less so when put in context than they had been in the trailer.
In truth, a more honest billing for the film would have been as a character tragedy. Where it fails as a comedy, it does succeed to some extent as a tragedy.
Cage's character is David Spritz, a TV weatherman for a small local channel, who, in trying to bring his estranged family back together, only succeeds in driving them even futher apart. The portrayal of the character does not have a great deal of depth, but what it does reveal is a man with absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. In the opening scenes, Spritz lashes out verbally at a man who asks for his autograph, and throughout the film he is repeatedly obnoxious and rude to almost everyone, usually for no apparent reason, to the point that it completely destroys any empathy that the audience might have had with the character.
The film has a very dark streak running through it (as you may expect from the previous paragraph). It is bleak, pessimistic, disjointed and uncomfortable to watch in places. No, make that unpleasant to watch.
The really unpleasant parts are the bits dealing with Spritz's two teenage children:
The son is being molested by his drugs councillor. This sub-plot does actually have some potential, but it was left woefully under-developed, and once resolved, didn't appear to make any apparent impact on any of the characters. In short, one of the few interesting aspects of the film turned out to be a complete dead-end.
Meanwhile, the twelve-year-old daughter is completely oblivious to the problems that her clothing choices are causing for her. She's being teased at school, but doesn't realise that the teasing is sexual. There is an uncomfortable scene where Spritz and his father (played by Michael Caine) discuss the problem, which is followed up by half a dozen very unflattering close-ups of women, flashed on the screen in quick succession to demonstrate the point. Some may have found it funny; I just found it distasteful. But again, none of this has any impact on the characters. Spritz buys his daughter new clothes; problem solved. But it doesn't seem to affect her in any way: she remains ignorant of the real problem, and just as with the son's problems, there's no character growth or deeper exploration of the theme. It's just another dead-end: the whole issue could have been dropped from the script without affecting the balance of the film in any way. In fact, it probably would have been better, as the whole thing was quite excruciating. It would have been better to have given more time to explore the son's problems.
The film's running time is apparently only 101 minutes, but it honestly felt like the longest film I'd ever sat through. An hour too long. Cage managed to put on an expression of boredom for the duration, and frankly that's pretty much what I felt too for large parts of it. But the real failure is one of marketing -- this film should never have been billed as a comedy; I didn't enjoy it because it wasn't what I was expecting, and was not the type of film I tend to like. I'm sure there are those out there who probably would enjoy this film, but are put off by the way it's marketed, but either way, I certainly don't think it's the great film it's been hyped as by some.
Final score: 3/10.
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