DOASKDOTELL MOVIE REVIEW of The Weather Man, 28 Days

 

Title:  The Weather Man

Release Date:  2005

Nationality and Language: USA, English

Running time: 101 min

MPAA Rating: R

Distributor and Production Company:  Paramount/Escape Artists/Summit

Director; Writer: Gore Verbinksi, Steve Conrad

Producer:

Cast:  Nicholas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Nicholas Hoult, Michael Rispoli, Gil Bellows

Technical: Flat 1.8 to 1

Relevance to DOASKDOTELL site:  various issues

 

The outline of the story and concept is simple. A television weather man, David Spritz (that is a carbonating, refreshing television pseudonym) (Nicholas Cage) is moving up in his career as a television personality, and his family life is falling apart. What will be his priorities?  Spritz sometimes tells us with his intermittent, salt-and-pepper first person narration. Cage is always an effective speaker when talking about "himself."

 

The “professional” part of it is pretty discouraging. Spritz calls it “an easy job”. The position requires corporate endorsements and maintaining a public profile. (That wouldn’t work for me.) But he is separated from his wife (Hope Davis) and his dad (Michael Caine) is dying of non-Hodgkins lymphoma, probably Stage IV.  He lives in Chicago, and right away the movie gets a pace from the progress of the Windy City’s weather. It is always snowing at first, but the winter matures and it starts to rain on the snow, pelting the snow away into green grass, as at the funeral scene at the end. (One of my novel manuscripts is called “Rain on the Snow.” ) In fact, Spritz has written a GAN (Great American Novel) called “Breaking Point” which he chucks one day with a Windows XP delete. (OK, he could recover it from the Recycle Bin.) His wife is disgusted by him physically – his ugly legs, his forearms (everybody knows that Cage is real hairy).  In the mean time, his hobby is archery, which he teaches to his kids. The character Russ (Michael Rispoli) will marry his wife, and Spritz at one point targets him with the bow and arrow.

 

He gets a job interview with “Hello America” in New York, and will share the top spot with Bryant Gumbel (who opens the 9/11 video “What We Saw.”) He even gets the job, all right (he auditions against the “green screen”). The job requires a promo spot for Purina.

 

But in the meantime there has been a darkening development. His likeable teenage son Mike (British actor Nicholas Hoult) has posed in some innocent shirtless photos in front of his guidance counselor Don (Gill Bellows) and you can guess that the educator’s intentions are predatory -- particularly because Don has first brought up the subject of weightlifting. There is nothing legally or objectively wrong with the photos themselves; it is only the motivational context -- photographer's underlying intentions -- that makes them potentially incriminating. Soon Mike is falsely accused of trying to steal Don’s wallet, when he was really rejecting an advance (that is reported, not shown on camera). So David goes over and beats Don up to get the accusation dropped, as obviously David could get him prosecuted for involvement with a minor. But that whole part is handled very sensitively. The script makes the point that Mike has almost reached adulthood (the movie says he is 15) and that Don perceives him as a man, for what Don perceives as legitimate aesthetic "Oscar Wilde" gay interest, however illegal because Mike is a minor. (David, in one late scene where Mike eats a fatty corndog, David reminds his son that he is still a kid.) So the older man is an ephebophile, not a pedophile. Still, in the movie the middle-aged character barely escapes a personal catastrophe (prosecution and probably registration as a sex offender). The movie shows the teenager as unharmed once his father (David) settles the situation and reassures his son over lunch in the shopping mall.

 

This movie has been characterized as a "big studio Sundance movie" with big stars. But if you look at imdb.com, most movies before about 1990 have big studio distributors, even "art movies."

 

The DVD has an extra about the script, and the whole movie seems like a collection of detailed little observations about modern life, without attempting to make any particular sweeping social or political statement. Indeed, the fine points that a reviewer focuses on make the movie a kind of personal Rorschach test, or at least something like a advances placement test free response. But the family challenges do give the story a typical part structure with turning points and resolution. 

 

28 Days (2000, Columbia, dir. Betty Thomas, wr. Susannah Grant, 104 min, PG-13). Sandra Bullock has to play a more troubled role this time, of a syndicated columnist with an alcohol problem. Yes, she is in denial. She says she is an alcoholic (and perhaps drug abuser) because she is a "writer." Some reason! When drunk, she steals a limo and crashes it. She gets a choice between jail and forced drug and alcohol rehab, for 28 days. She has to pass room inspections (like in a boot camp), and when she breaks the rules she almost gets sent back to jail by Cornell Shaw (Steve Buscemi). She has to come clean with family in all of these therapy sessions, and walk through the (Alcoholics Anonymous) (Hazelton) Twelve Step program. Intervention was forced upon her because of her behavior.  She bonds with fellow patient played Eddie by Viggo Mortensen. Toward the end, there is a medical crisis. What is troubling to think about is other, more subtle problems, that could lead to interventions. Don't confuse this with the sci-fi pandemic "28 Days Later."   

 

 

 

Related reviews:. Student Seduction, etc.  28 Days Later

 

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