Awash in weather metaphors about life’s messy unpredictability, Gore Verbinski’s The Weather Man disingenuously conveys the fickleness of day-to-day existence via a monsoon of profane, contrived moroseness. Local Chicago TV weatherman David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a walking disaster, incapable of cordially interacting with ex-wife Noreen (Hope Davis), unskilled at dealing with his overweight daughter Shelly (Gemmenne de la Peña) and just-out-of-drug-rehab son Mike (Nicholas Hoult), and unable to stop unfavorably comparing himself to (and trying to emulate and gain the approval of) his dying Pulitzer Prize-winning father Robert (Michael Caine). As he tries to move up the temperature-predicting ladder by landing a gig on Bryant Gumbel’s national morning show, Spritz is compelled to deal with every manor of “edgy” embarrassment and failure, whether it be the projectile fast food that people regularly throw at him on the street (for being a catchphrase-spouting, meteorology degree-lacking phony) or Shelly’s wardrobe issues regarding camel toe. Both of these problems are depicted in Verbinski montages that skew toward the absurd, yet Steve Conrad’s script is so single-mindedly committed to making Spritz an iconic sadsack (he even has to deal with a Diff’rent Strokes-ish pedophile dilemma) that his plight becomes more gratingly insincere than touchingly bizarre. Torrential cursing and freaking out does not a genuine character study make, and though Verbinski handles the material with bland professionalism and Cage delivers a fine, focused performance as the well-intentioned but moronic weather analyst—especially when called upon to strike the face of Noreen’s new beau (Michael Rispoli) with his gloves—there’s something spurious about the stream of random and self-generated Spritz humiliations offered up by the film, which self-consciously strains for mythic misery instead of grounding its hopelessness in a realistically capricious, up-and-down world. Spritz is only skilled when in front of the camera and a green screen, his every decision regarding his beloved kids or the ex he (foolishly) hopes will return to him a case study in pathetic ineptitude. Yet in the final forecast, The Weather Man is less incompetent than it is simply forced, an attempt at off-kilter pathos that champions the idea that accepting one’s lot in life (imperfections and all) is the key to contentment without ever providing an authentic portrait of imperfection in the first place.
The Weather Man’s palette is less steel-and-cobalt chic than House Beautiful mod; still, it’s pretty to look at, even if the transfer is marred with frequent edge enhancement and the occasional combing effect. Audio is better, not least of which because Hans Zimmer’s Björkian score is a total trip.
Okay, how annoying are the titles of the featurettes available on this DVD: "Extended Outlook: The Script," "Forecast: Becoming a Weatherman," "Atmospheric Pressure: The Style and Palette," "Relative Humidity: The Characters," and "Trade Winds: The Collaboration"? Can we say "Blow Hard: Eating Me"?
Strictly for fans of Sprint commercials.