The Weather Man Studio: Paramount Home Video Year: 2006 (2005 Release) Rated: R (strong language and sexual content) Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays Audio: English DD 5.1; English DD 2.0 surround; French 5.1 surround Subtitles: English; Spanish Time: 101 minutes Disc Format: DVD-9 Case Style: Keep case While watching this picture and thinking about the impending review, I was trying to figure out a way to not use any weather metaphors to describe the plot or the characters. This will prove to be quite difficult as I was presented with a very dour story of a sad man. Nicholas Cage plays Dave Spritzer, a Chicago weatherman who has an opportunity to move to New York for the national morning program. Dave has numerous problems in his life: he’s divorced; his daughter is the subject of taunting at school; his son is recovering from a drug problem; his dad’s just been diagnosed with lymphoma; and, oh, yeah, people like to throw food and drinks at “the weatherman” due to the inaccuracies in forecasts. During the course of the picture, things continue to go poorly for Dave and those around him, and he takes up archery as a means to put his life back on target (remember, I only promised no weather metaphors). There really isn’t much more to “The Weather Man” than that. We travel with Dave through the drudgery of the weather business as well as each progressively worse encounter with his ex-wife and family. Michael Caine plays Dave’s dad, Robert, whose emotional distance is reaffirmed with every sentence out of his mouth. About two thirds of the way into the picture, I had to stop and ask myself if there would be any hope for this guy and his life. To this, I can only say thank goodness for TV’s Bryant Gumble. Cage apparently has a clause in his contract that requires him to do soulful voice-overs to tell the stupid audience what exactly he is feeling or what may be unclear in the story. However, “The Weather Man” really isn’t so clever that I need Cage to clue me in. Having been in the acting biz for quite a few years now, one would expect Cage would be able to convey his feelings and thoughts through his chosen craft, which he does quite effectively. Director Gore Verbinski seems to have less faith in Cage and the audience, thus, an obtrusive voice-over that only occasionally adds to the picture (the tartar sauce scene is a prime example). On a positive note, Verbinski and Director of Photography Phedon Papamichael shot a great looking picture. Chicago, and a frozen Lake Michigan, becomes another character in the story. The cool colors of the film coupled with the winter settings keep us in the mood of the characters and this point in their lives. Having lived in the Midwest during those long and cold winters, I was instantly transported back to those bone chilling days. Video: The DVD provides us with an anamorphic, 1.85:1 image. Color detail is good, and, as I noted above, the film is shot in very cool tones to reinforce the story elements. I noticed color detail would often crush into the blacks, so much of the detail was lost in the darker scenes. Detail in the brighter scenes was adequate but it lacked clarity in both foreground and background scenes. A few of the night scenes did stand out in contrast to this, but overall, this isn’t a terribly sharp transfer. Edge enhancement was minimal, and there was no film dirt or video noise observed. Note: There also seems to be a very long pause during the layer switch. My Bravo D-1 is usually quite good with these switches, but this one lasted approximately three seconds. This is not an issue, per se, but it did affect my viewing so it is noted here. Audio: I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. There were only minimal ambient effects in the surrounds, and the music would sometimes swell out or echo there as well. Stereo effects were accurate behind the voices in the center channel. LFE was minor. Dialogue was clear and precise and ADR did not stand out. Bonus Material: Extended Outlook: The Script (10:03): The creative team discusses the script and Verbinski’s approach to the picture. Cage was excited since he had never played a weatherman before. They also discuss some plot specifics and how it related to their personal lives. Forecast: Becoming a Weatherman (5:40): Cage discusses his preparation for the role, while Tom Skilling from WGN talks about the technical aspects of a Chicago weatherman’s job. The director and producer also comment on the difficulties of a weatherman’s job. Atmospheric Pressure: The Style and Palette (9:18): A discussion of the look of the film with Verbinski, Papamichael and Production Designer Tom Duffield. This is actually a pretty detailed look at how the sets and colors affect the rest of the picture. Good stuff! Relative Humidity: The Characters (19:39): Cast and crewmembers talk about the characters and their motivations. Trade Winds: The Collaboration (15:35): How all the parts (script, shoot, editing) of production put together the final product. This segment also touches on the costuming and score. Theatrical Trailer Conclusions: This is a depressing film, set in the dead of a Chicago winter, that doesn’t really benefit from its “A List” cast. There is a decent amount of extras that may add to your viewing experience. While well shot, the parts don’t total up to a satisfying, or even hopeful, conclusion.