Thursday, January 04, 2007

Overlooked DVD of the month - THE WEATHER MAN

People don't throw things at me any more. Maybe because I carry a bow around.This month's overlooked DVD is a small-budget indie-type pic written by the guy who wrote the Will Smith schmaltz-fest THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS and directed by the man responsible for PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN. Despite this, it's a rather wonderful, mournful, seditious film featuring a pitifully brilliant performance by Nic Cage.

Cage plays a financially successful Chicago weatherman who hates his life. He's not a qualified meteorologist; he resents the public's identification of him with the weather (not least because they keep throwing fast food at him); his ex-wife is seeing another man; his daughter is obese and self-hating; his junkie son is being sleazed on by a pederast therapist; and to cap it all off, he feels he does not have the respect of his fatally ill father. Unsurprisingly, then, this movie is downbeat. It's like a blue-grey tone poem of middle-aged angst; brilliantly and brutally well-observed.

The movie is so relentlessly down-beat that some have complained that it's dull to the point of frustration. But that, I think, overlooks the thin but rich stream of black humour contained within the script. There's an interior monologue as Cage's weather man has to go to the grocery store and pick up some tartar sauce for his wife that's absolutely hysterical, for example. A more valid criticism is that Michael Caine once again fails to pin down the American accent, but frankly his performance is otherwise so good I can overlook this. Hope Davis is similarly good as Cage's wife, as is Nicholas Hoult as the son.

But the real reason I think this movie deserves a look is that the ending is about as seditious as I can imagine. The fact that some critics have accused it of being schmaltzy staggers me. Because what the movie tells us is that all this stuff is blowing in the Weather Man's face, but he will be okay and his life be judged a success. Why? Because he takes a job as Weather Man on a nationwide breakfast show, pulling in a million two a year. The final scene has Cage standing on a parade float waving and smiling blandly at the crowds lining the streets - behind the fire brigade but ahead of Sponge-Bob. He is rich. "The ultimate American accomplishment" and a damning indictment of American society from the screen-writer and film-maker. I can't remember the last time I saw such a daring, materialistic, seditious ending. And watching this film close on the heels of THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, I keep wondering if critics missed a trick with just how materialistic and seditious that movie also is.

THE WEATHER MAN was originally released in the US in October 2005 and in the UK in March 2006. It is now out on DVD.

1 comment:

  1. This is an excellent selection. Great little movie.