**1/2 (out of four)
In the imaginary, low-budget moviemaking handbook, there are 10 chapters on stories about money-starved small towns and resourceful kids forced to confront their positions without a reliable parent for support.
The Illinois-set “Future Weather” falls smack in the middle of this indie subgenre, and it's neither a disposable piece of formula nor an engrossing tale that makes the most of its standard parts. Thirteen-year-old Lauduree (Perla Haney-Jardine, looking a little like Katherine Heigl in “My Father the Hero”) has turned out incredibly well considering her dad died when she was two and her irresponsible mom (Marin Ireland, who played “Upset visitor” in Steven Soderbergh's recent “Side Effects”) takes off for California to be a makeup artist, leaving her daughter only a goodbye note and $50. A science fiend who prefers to work alone and wants to live alone, Lauduree would be happy--well, not happy, but fine--trying to support herself.
Of course, a teenager can't do that, and the need to care for Lauduree may impact the plans of her grandma (Amy Madigan), who wants to move to Florida and make her long-distance relationship with her boyfriend (William Sadler of “The Shawshank Redemption”) short-distance.
It's tough to generate dramatic momentum around a 13-year-old researching carbon dioxide. Lauduree's friendship with nice new kid and fellow science fan Neel (Anubhav Jain) is sweet, but the coming-of-age moments barely fit into the bigger picture. The thematic notion of finding a safe environment for an endangered species (and child) also comes off as a stretch in the context of global warming and, as Lauduree, claims, the notion of Florida possibly being underwater in 30 years.
In her science teacher (Lili Taylor of “High Fidelity”), Lauduree finds an advocate for her cause and hope that she's not the only one trying to keep her world, in the large and small sense, spinning properly. Well-acted and ultimately underwhelming, “Future Weather” skips a rock through a common story but not without cracking the surface of kids' need for help in a variety of pursuits.
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