The Weather Man(Paramount Home Entertainment, 2.21.2006)
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray's prick of a big city weatherman relives February 2nd in an unbreakable loop before realizing that he must become a better man. Gore Verbinski's somnambulant The Weather Man also concerns an introspective forecaster in the throes of an existential crisis, but it's less high concept, less optimistic and, frankly, a lot less interesting. And, while Groundhog Day was about how it's never too late to become the idealized version of ourselves, The Weather Man tells us that we may never get that second chance, but sometimes that's okay.
David Spritz (Nicholas Cage) is a Chicago weatherman whose ostensible success is surpassed only by his self-loathing. The same propensity to take the easy way out that killed his marriage and made his Pulitzer Prize winning father (Michael Caine) dismiss him is now contributing to his teenage son and pre-teen daughter's apathy. Thrown the life jacket of a possible gig on the national show Wake Up America, Spritz thinks that he can become a man that his family respects once again...before realizing that such change must come from within.
Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Carribbean, The Ring) waters down the film with a succession of static two shots that are ostensibly intended to reflect Spritz's inertia. Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael's blue-gray cinematography nicely (if obtusely) compares Spritz's disposition to Chicago's blustery gusts and frozen lakes. Meanwhile, Hans Zimmer's (The Ring) xylophone-heavy, somber score is cacophonous and a bit off-putting, calling attention to itself rather than underscoring Spritz's plight.
Cage plays the stolid Spritz as a sort of cross between his Charlie Kauffman character in Adaptation and Edward Norton's narrator in Fight Club, but Spritz is neither that likeable, nor that interesting. He's also the film's anchor to such an extent that even the gifted Hope Davis (The Daytrippers) isn't able to breathe life into her performance as Spritz's ex-wife. And Caine is saddled with an awkward American accent, a succession of glib comments, and Bob Segar's "Like a Rock" playing over his most meaningful scene, evoking a Chevy commercial rather than poignance.
The disc features a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0, and a "blizzard of extras" that will leave you cold. Those extras consist of 5 featurettes -- on the score, the screenplay, the cinematography, the characters, and meteorology -- which are even more boring than the glacially placed flick itself. -- Colin Miller