The Weather Man (Gore Verbinski, 2005)

It’s wind, man, it blows everywhere

David Spritz’s marriage ended in fights, his two kids are messed up and people on the street throw fast food on him. He’s a weather man, you see; he gets paid way too royally for too little work. How cruel is the common man’s jealousy. All the other stuff is David’s own fault, though.

He’s a man destitute of noble character. His mild obsession with porn and lack of attention lost him his family. He swears constantly, much to the embarrassment of his father Robert (played by an impeccable Michael Caine sporting an unconvincing American accent). Robert is not the centerpiece of the film, but he’s its moral compass. He has just learned about his impending death, but still tries to save his drifting son. You see in him that if David had been a perfect stranger, Robert would have felt nothing but sad contempt for him. But family ties are stronger than such judgment and Robert is eternally patient with David’s fuck-ups.

“What is this sucking and chucking and jacking and fucking up, son?” he asks David. Robert is from a milieu in which such humors are dealt with gracefully instead of aired in anger. Of course, David doesn’t have it easy. There’s a splendid moment in which he breaks down after someone throws an apple pie on his coat on the street. In desperation he picks up the projectile and sprints after the car. “I have to see my kids with pie on me, man!” he bemoans. There is a point at which we realize his children, whose wellbeing is a major concern in the film, were going to be all right regardless of anything. The same we couldn’t say of David.

Two things raise The Weather Man up to be more than a simple, dark, almost Coen-esque personal drama. (It isn’t ironic or stinging enough to be by the Coens.) One, Gore Verbinski’s magisterial shots of Chicago’s wintry outskirts. Frozen rivers, cracking ice sheets on archery targets, slivers of frost on the pavement. Two, Nicolas Cage, the man who brings endless fascination and quirkiness to any character.

Pleasant about The Weather Man is that David has made a mess of everything without the movie resorting to cinema shortcuts. He doesn’t do drugs, he isn’t a criminal, he’s not mad. All of these things could’ve been worked into the script to explain him, but fortunately they aren’t. There are no external reasons for David’s current life. He’s just a well-intentioned father and television personality with a unfortunately weak character.

Roderick Leeuwenhart

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