The Weather Man

The Weather Man

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Michael Caine, Hope Davis

Director: Gore Verbinski

The film: Although often pigeon-holed as a 'dark comedy' since its release last year, I can't see the comedy for the darkness - or, more accurately, the bleakness. But bleak comedies work better than this one when more sympathy can be built around the protagonist.

The Weather Man charts the downward spiral of the life of Nicolas Cage's character, David Spritz, a high-rolling famous face on American TV, who, despite admitting to knowing nothing about meteorology, has the right face and turn of phrase to front weather forecasts.

Although working in this well-paid and high-profile post affords Spritz all his material desires, his marriage, relationship with his two children and general lust for life are in tatters. Sounds like the makings of a decent scenario, but ultimately you're encouraged neither to side with Spritz nor detest him for his wanton anti-social and destructive behaviour.

Cage is no comic actor, and this, coupled with some fairly lame gags, means there's scant amusement and the 101 minutes drag mercilessly.

Everything seems an effort for Spritz. Admittedly, he gets rough treatment from those who recognise him - inexplicably, people's innate reaction when spotting him on the footpath or at the wheel of his car is to lob any food or drink they have to hand.

But the man is one of life's relentless whingers who seems unable to realise that he's actually got it pretty good. He realises what a sham his job is, though, always feeling inadequate in the presence of his father Robert (Michael Caine, left with Cage), whose Pulitzer Prize-winning shadow looms large over his son. Caine's performance, possibly the best in the film, is also firing on only a few cylinders as an ailing perfectionist with little time for his son's self pity.

Director Gore Verbinski is notching up an eclectic portfolio, adding this so-called comedy to a resume that includes the likes of The Mexican, Pirates of the Caribbean and the remake of Japanese horror flick The Ring.

The extras: Generous in quantity, but no real revelations in five shorts that examine characters, script and the director's manipulation of mood. Most interesting is the account of Cage being prepped on his character's job. No commentary tracks are included.

The verdict: Be prepared to experience a constant ridge of high pressure and persistent damp squibs that could lead to you reaching for the remote control's 'off' button.