Kofi's hat

Kofi's hat

MP3s, music news and reviews, and a sprinkling of pop culture. Named by Aqualung's Matt Hales, after his son.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

Ink in my blood, a song in my heart. Metaphor is my middle name.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Dissecting "The Weather Man"

The Weather Man is the story of a man who feels he falls short at everything, and that he is mediocre, a constant disappointment to everyone. Sadly, the movie falls short, and is mediocre.

Nicolas Cage plays Dave Spritz. He shortened his last name from Spritzel for TV; he is of course a T.V. weatherman -- local, although he has hopes of landing a national gig. He is not a meteorologist, and this bothers him greatly. He gets his forecasts from a meteorologist, and although he tries to understand them, his main contributions are the addition of cutesy spins like "the Spritz Nipper", the one day each week he predicts will be the coldest. He resents the attention these catchphrases generate, and reacts angrily when people approach him to ask what the Nipper is. He feels these catchphrases and his "showbiz name" are what inspire anger in some people. That would explain why people sometimes throw drinks and fast food at him. This is a running gag throughout the movie, often used for humour, sometimes for a more poignant, sad impact. It's a creative bit, used cleverly, although it's never clear quite why this particular forecaster inspires so much ire. Why don't people do this to all forecasters, if merely getting predictions wrong and mildly obnoxious behaviour provokes this sort of reaction?

In any event, Dave has much more to worry about than high dry-cleaning bills. His family life leaves a lot to be desired. He desperately wants to reconcile with his ex-wife, who might or might not hate him, but definitely has a boyfriend (who reminded me of Stuart Smalley). His son, fresh out of rehab, might have a troublesome relationship with one of his ex-counselors. His moody daughter hates everything, is being picked-on by the other kids, and is smoking. His father, a Very Important Author (naturally, this is what Dave aspires to be as well) is ill. Michael Caine plays Dave's father, and is the Voice of Wisdom in The Weather Man. When there is a real lesson to be conveyed, he's the one to convey it, sometimes in a fairly fake "movie" way.

So, pretty much everything sucks for Dave. Oh, except he can easily get sex, because he's on T.V. Woot! Everything that happens is largely conveyed via voiceover by Nicolas Cage. This a clunky form of storytelling when done in excess. It just gets old. The plotting was awkward; it essentially felt like a list of insufficiently related things happening until it was time for the ending. Dave takes his daughter to a company picnic. Dave takes archery lessons. Dave gets an audition. When the film was about two-thirds over, momentum abruptly started to quickly build toward the conclusion. Another audience member said the film felt "episodic". Darn him for thinking of the description first. He's absolutely right. He also said, "It was all over the place; it didn't lead anywhere." He said he felt frustrated. I partly agree with that. I do feel the film lead somewhere, in that it was trying to make a point. The point may not have been made as well as it could have been, but I think the conclusion of the film was at least sufficiently consistent with some of the "life lessons" taught by Michael Caine's character.

I'll try to save you about $10 and a couple hours or so. This may not be exactly the right quote but it's close: "The right thing and the hard thing are often the same thing" and "Easy doesn't enter into grown-up life." The film, in its meandering, episodic way, led to Dave's gradual acceptance that life is partly about compromise and about reassessing your expectations in light of (ick) reality. "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find. You get what you need." They didn't use that song in the movie; they used "Like a Rock". Ah, well. I always keep my expectations for music in movies low (nothing against "Like a Rock", but the Stones song would have been a good fit).

The Weather Man isn't terrible, it's just mediocre... it does have some good laughs, but it took a while to get going, was not very entertaining or consistently funny or witty, and is a downer, and was pretty boring for some stretches. Spritz is not a particularly appealing or compelling character. Cage's performance was fine. Caine is good, his character was interesting, but we didn't get a sense of any depth to him or to his wisdom. Dave's oft-hysterical wife seems like a pretty bad mother and is otherwise a cipher. Dave's mother is almost entirely a non-entity. She appeared once and then I forgot she existed until she showed up again later on. Gemmenne de la Pena delivered a good performance as Dave's daughter, but the role calls for her to be so sullen and unpleasant that its a pretty thankless task. Nicholas Hoult is also good as Dave's neglected son, but his abuse subplot seemed at best pointless, at worst exploitive. The bottom line is that I don't recommend The Weather Man though I am amused at another movie title "requiring" me to say I am dissecting a person in the review headline.


Blogger IanB said...

Kofi's Hat is now Blogrolled at my site ~ RetroBabe!

4:57 PM  

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