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Originally published Friday, October 28, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Dark "Weather" becomes partly sunny when Caine is on-screen

Don't be fooled by what seems like slapstick comedy in ads for "The Weather Man." Gore Verbinski's film is a rather grim affair, far darker and more...

Seattle Times movie critic

Don't be fooled by what seems like slapstick comedy in ads for "The Weather Man." Gore Verbinski's film is a rather grim affair, far darker and more pessimistic than most studio star vehicles.

Nicolas Cage plays David Spritz, a sad-eyed Chicago TV weatherman who would seem to have the world by the tail: He's got a job that's easy but lucrative, a "large reward for pretty much zero effort and contribution." (There's a real meteorologist at the station, off-camera, who explains things: "It's wind, man.")

But life is no picnic for this man who's a minor celebrity around town, thanks to his catchphrase for a cold snap, "the Spritz Nipper" (which sounds, to give screenwriter Steven Conrad credit, like exactly the sort of phrase a feel-good weatherman would invent). His marriage to Noreen (Hope Davis) has failed; his children Shelly (Gemmenne de la Peña) and Mike (Nicholas Hoult, from "About a Boy") are distant; his Pulitzer Prize-winning father, Robert (Michael Caine), doesn't respect him; and disgruntled people keep throwing fast food at him on the streets. Nothing's working out for David: Even a snowball tossed in fun at Noreen goes awry, cracking her glasses.

Movie review 2.5 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"The Weather Man," with Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis, Gil Bellows, Michael Rispoli, Gemmenne de la Peña, Nicholas Hoult. Directed by Gore Verbinski, from a screenplay by Steven Conrad. 102 minutes. Rated R for strong language and sexual content. Several theaters.

"The Weather Man" is a competent film, crisply acted and often beautifully shot (by Phedon Papamichael, of "Sideways"). The gray, icy misery of a Chicago winter seems to wrap itself around the characters. But it doesn't bring anything new to the idea of male midlife crisis that's been explored so many times before. Cage, a skilled actor who always seems to have sadness tugging at the corners of even his comic performances, moves briskly through the film but doesn't really seem to get anywhere. His constant, morose voice-over never varies.

Caine, in a quietly formal performance (Robert is the sort of retiree who dons a suit for medical appointments), serves as a bright light of the film, and a voice of wisdom for his son. "[In] this short life," he says, "we must chuck some things," and in Caine's well-worn voice, it sounds like poetry. Otherwise, a season ends, a spring thaw sets in, and David and his family go on. It's all believable enough, but it never sings.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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