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OK, we all know that Nicholas Cage is weird. He's weird in the movies and in real life. Early on, he changed his name from Coppola (His uncle is Francis Ford Coppola) so that he could make it on his own. He chose his stage name from a comic book character, Luke Cage. Then, there was Patricia Arquette and Lisa Marie Presley. He has fathered three children from three different mothers. The third child has been named, Kal-el, after another, more famous, comic book character. More importantly, Cage has a great resume of weird film roles including (just my favorites) Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Guarding Tess, It Could Happen to You, Leaving Las Vegas, and Adaptation. He uttered one of my favorite all-time quotes in ConAir, "Put the bunny back in the box." I really love the guy. His presence made National Treasure into an enjoyable film, but he couldn't save Lord of War. Now he is back with another quirky film, The Weather Man.
The Weather Man tells the story of a mess of a human being (Nicholas Cage) who does the weather on a local TV station in Chicago. His wife (Hope Davis) has left him for another guy (Michael Rispoli). His two kids are a mess also. His son (Nicholas Hoult) is in rehab and therapy, and his daughter (Gemmenne de la Peña) is very overweight. His father (Michael Caine), a famous author, loves him but is disappointed. And he is dying of cancer. Cage wants to be a good husband, son and father but he doesn't have a clue how to do it. The only success in his life is being The Weather Man. In the midst of the chaos that is his life, Cage is on the verge of getting his big break on a network morning show hosted by Bryant Gumbel (who plays himself). The message of The Weather Man can be summed up by one thing that Caine says to Cage, "Do you know that the harder thing to do, and the right thing to do, are usually the same thing? 'Easy' doesn't enter into grown-up life." This is strangely similar to what Dumbledore says to Harry Potter in the upcoming Goblet of Fire, "Dark and difficult times lie ahead, Harry. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."
The Weather Man is an interesting movie that keeps your attention all the way through but somehow it just doesn't click. It was directed by a Gore Verbinski (The Pirates of the Caribbean, The Mexican) who in a previous life, invented the Budweiser Frog commercials. He can certainly direct. He really clicked with Pirates of the Caribbean. And Cage is always interesting even when he is tanking, and here he has Michael Caine and Hope Davis to bounce off of. Caine, in his 3rd movie of the year (Bewitched, Batman Begins) sounds weird with his American accent and is also playing a bit against type which he has been doing a lot lately (The Statement, The Quiet American). The relationship between Cage and Caine is the most interesting thing in The Weather Man. The other characters, the ex-wife and the troubled kids, are just cookie-cutter subplots. The actors are all good. Davis always rocks, and Hoult, who plays Cage's son, already has a great role (About a Boy) in his resume. He is also faking an American accent. Gil Bellows (Shawshank Redemption, Ally McBeal) has a really weird, creepy part as Hoult's counselor, which should have been cut from the movie. I was racking my brains during the movie as to who the guy (Michael Rispoli) playing Davis' new husband was and then I thought of it. He was Joey the landlord in While You Were Sleeping.
One problem is that The Weather Man is a real downer. Cage is already in his death spiral when the movie begins and despite my hopes that he would pull out of it, he just keeps spiraling down until the sort-of upbeat denouement that is tacked on at the end. You have admire a movie where the lead character starts walking around the city with a bow and arrows so that people will stop throwing Big Gulps at him, even if it doesn't make any sense.