Review Date: December 23, 2005
Director: Gore Verbinski
Writer: Steve Conrad
Producers: Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch
Nicolas Cage as David
Michael Caine as Robert
Hope Davis as Noreen
A down-and-out TV weatherman with two kids and an ex-wife who isn’t exactly crazy about him anymore, finds out that his father might be dying soon, and spends most of the film attempting to get closer to his kids, his ex-wife and his pops. Unfortunately for him, he’s the sort of guy who never seems to be able to say or do the right thing at the right time. Also, he comes off like an asshole most of the time. All in all, an interesting journey through one man’s existence.
This is a strange movie to describe (see above) and even more difficult to recommend to “just anybody” as it’s not really about anything (kinda like an episode of “Seinfeld”) and yet, it was able to entertain and keep me thoroughly intrigued throughout. I’ve always enjoyed good character pieces, particularly if they star an actor of whom I am fond, and in this case, I was happy to see Nicolas Cage back in his old “dramatic comedy” shoes. Before Cage was better known as an “action star”, he was one of my favorite actors, always choosing to come up with original takes on his characters. In this film, he’s given a solid script through which to roam freely, as a man who basically doesn’t know what the hell to do with his life (mid-life crisis?), but going about it in a number of awkward and humorous ways. Although the film is not a comedy, I laughed out loud in several spots, particularly when strangers were throwing things at Cage’s character. No matter how many times I saw those clips, they still cracked me up, especially when he would break them down and try to figure out what was up with those people. The whole “tartar sauce” sequence was also a classic, as were many of the name-calling moments, especially the running “cameltoe” joke. Hilarious stuff! (Also, “I don’t like his asshole-face.”) That said, it’s important to note that this is mostly a melancholic affair, as its set in the dead of Chicago’s winter season, with many shots of snow falling and covering the city spread throughout the film.
It also deals with a bunch of not-so-funny topics including the nearing death of one’s father, the nastiness of divorce, pedophilia and others. You wouldn’t think that comedy and those sensitive topics would mix properly, but I thought the entire film was extremely well-made, with all of the characters ringing true, the dialogue feeling fresh and inviting, and the film’s style also helping to pull me into its winter carriage. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Hope Davis and Michael Caine co-starred in this affair as Cage’s ex-wife and dad respectively. Both of them came through as per their usual style, but I was particularly impressed by Cain’s character, who I initially believed would be yet another “feeling-less father whose grand success dwarfs his son for life”, but who pleasantly surprised. In the end, I don’t think that many people will fully appreciate this film, as it can’t be easily compacted into a one-note description or genre, but if you’re like me and really enjoy character movies centering around a deeply flawed, but always-interesting, character, along with a handful of original funny moments and adult themes, you should definitely check this film out. Oh and if you equate “good movie” only with “happy endings”, that’s yet another reason not to see it. For me, all of that didn’t matter…it was simply a great movie, across the board.
(c) 2017 Berge Garabedian