The Weather Man


Nicholas Cage seems condemned to narrate movies in which he stars, beginning with Raising Arizona. No less than two movies last year made similar use of Cage’s vocal talents, Lord of War and now The Weather Man. Why is it about Cage that causes people to cast him in this type of role so often? His voice does have a unique hang-dog quality, sort of like a kindly bloodhound character from an animated Disney movie.

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The Weather Man presents a poignant, complex variation on the recognizable Cage character. He’s cornered the market on people who seem perpetually puzzled by life and Dave Spritz has many reasons to be perplexed. He’s achieved outward material success as a local weatherman in Chicago, and he’s up for a national morning show in New York, but his personal life would have to be much more orderly to qualify as a train wreck. His marriage is over and his wife is involved with another man. His daughter is sullen, withdrawn, pudgy and disengaged. His father, Robert (Michael Caine), is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has always managed to feel Dave feel inadequate and unaccomplished. He is also dying of lymphoma, which means that Dave only has a little time to measure up in his eyes.

Dave’s problem is that, no matter how skilled he might be at pointing out low-pressure systems, in his personal relationships he has a unswerving talent for saying or doing exactly the wrong thing. That cripples his attempts to reach out to his daughter and reconcile with his wife. However, indulging his daughter’s momentary flirtation with archery gives him an obsessive new hobby that starts to increase his self-confidence as his skill level improves, until he’s motivated to take action when his teenaged son’s drug counselor takes an unhealthy interest in the boy.


This kind of film can be a complete bore in less skillful hands, when your protagonist is a self-loathing, unmotivated lump, but the film adroitly gives us a rooting interest in Dave’s troubles. He’s making a genuine effort, throughout the entire movie, to do the right thing, and even though his failures are mostly self-inflicted, his attempts at least earn him our indulgent respect.

The Weather Man has another asset in Michael Caine’s performance. Robert is a man who says exactly what is on his mind, no matter how it emasculates his son. Caine gives the man a fatherly gravity that makes his words seem more like tough love than cruelty.

This is not a film for fans that only know Cage from The Rock, Con Air or National Treasure, but it does show there is room to grow, even within the confines of a pretty stock Nicholas Cage character.

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