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Not So Funny 

The Weather Man, starring Nicolas Cage as a disappointment of a son and a failure of a father, was screened for critics in the spring, before its April release was pushed to October, ostensibly to allow for the off chance that Cage or Michael Caine (as Cage's father) might be nominated for Academy Awards. But those who'd seen the movie months ago believed an altogether different reason for its delay: Paramount had absolutely no idea how to sell the thing; it has the dour, dark sensibility of an art-house resident but the budget of a wide release. Perhaps the studio held up its release in order to better market it -- a theory borne out by the current ad campaign, which pitches The Weather Man as light, wacky and uplifting. In other words, it's being sold as something for everyone, which is selling it short.

In truth, it's brooding, dark, and contemplative -- a reluctant comedy about failure and fear, about living up to expectations and letting down loved ones, about making things right and doing it all wrong, about trying to fix things beyond repair. There is redemption somewhere in here, even the suggestion that success will not completely elude weatherman Dave Spritz (Cage), but writer Steve Conrad and director Gore Verbinski are less interested in peeks of sunshine than in downpours -- Verbinski, perhaps, as a result of spending so much time at sea shooting Pirates of the Caribbean. Dave may win a few, but he's a loser ... no, worse.

Yep, sure -- Cage and Caine deserve Oscar nominations; so do the kids and Davis, all perfect in a movie about imperfect people trying their best and usually doing their worst. But this is hardly the point. The Weather Man is not the wacky movie Paramount is selling, nor is it cynical Oscar bait. It's just a little movie about little people trying not to get wet or freeze to death or get burned when they walk outside, and good luck with all that.


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