Director: Gore Verbinski
Before he wrote the inspiring crowd pleaser The Pursuit of Happyness, screenwriter Steve Conrad wrote a much darker comedy helmed by Pirates of Caribbean director Gore Verbinski. The film tells the story of a Chicago weatherman (Nicolas Cage), who despite forcing a believable fake smile for the camera is the perpetual target of angry viewers hurling food at his person, waking each day to a family life in shambles with marriage to Hope Davis on the rocks, a constant struggle to relate to his adolescent children and the difficulty of living in the shadow of a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning father, Michael Caine. Verbinski and Cage fought Paramount’s request to film in the more economical location of Canada in favor of keeping the shoot in Chicago for authenticity sake. Using the same type of first person voice over narration he perfected in Pursuit of Happyness, Steve Conrad’s bitingly razor-sharp dialogue is performed to excellent effect by Cage who recorded all audio prior to shooting and then had it fed to him onset. The film makes for a grueling viewing for those expecting something a bit lighter and carefree in its humor based on the misleading trailer that played for a full year in theatres while the release date kept changing (which is never a positive sign that Hollywood is confident about its value). Similar in theme to About Schmidt or a much more twisted offering by Schmidt and Sideways director Alexander Payne, we’re instantly intrigued by Cage’s unlikable character mostly because of his star power and natural charisma which makes us want to root for him no matter how frustrating his role can be and his performance causes The Weather Man to succeed. Hope Davis and Michael Caine also turn in fine performances in their less showy supporting roles that also help make the film worth a viewing, despite its dismal tone, for those who genuinely enjoy the increasingly popular American Dysfunctional Family genre.