My Buddy is a Cage – The Weather Man (2005)

Call it burnout but these weekly conjugal visits are beginning to wear me down. I’m not quitting or even taking a break. But I’ll be finishing up a non-Cage-ian post later this week.  I so excite!
Chicago weather man David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) is a sap. When he’s not a walking target for half-consumed fast food, he’s gaffing any headway with his estranged wife, Noreen (Hope Davis), and setting a bad example for his already dysfunctional kids. David struggles to make choices in his life when he simultaneously gets a promising job offer on Hello America and finds out his distant father (Michael Caine) has a terminal illness. And maybe he learns to return an ill-intentioned Hot Apple Pie or two along the way.

[Obvious comment about how obvious weather man metaphor for life is obvious]

What immediately struck me was The Weather Man’s diminished scope and tepid tone, astonishing since this was helmed by Mr. Pirates o’ Caribbean. Gore Verbinski shows he’s capable of making more than three one solid action-adventure, The Ring notwithstanding. Oh, and everything looks great. In addition to having the best Pizza Chain name ever, Phedon Papamichael’s photography casts Chicago in a somber blue malaise that may have doubled as a subtle sedative for Nic on set.  

I will admit that there is something off about listening to Michael Caine try out an American accent, but I have no idea if this was his doing or just my brain repeatedly saying FUCK NO FUCK NO THIS FEELS WRONG, ALFRED. Cage himself is pretty good in this. What with Adaptation. and now The Weather Man, I’m inclined to make a premature prediction and claim that Mr. Cage is much better when a script and/or director tells him to tone it the fuck down. No exceptions. Evar.

“People don’t throw things at me anymore. Maybe because I carry a bow around. I don’t know.”

That there’s the heart of The Weather Man. David Spritz does change, but we’re not really told why, much less how. Is it because of that bow? Or is it because he takes his father’s advice and learns to “chuck” some things in life? And what are those things? His responsibilities as a family man? After all, he does leave his ex-wife and children so he can chill with Bryant Gumbel in New York. I guess he still visits on weekends. That’s okay right?

The script is the only flub here, but it’s a big one. Steve Conrad provides ample laughs in debating the merits of the American fast food complex and adolescent camel toes, however I can’t help take issue. David is kind of a fuck, even after his character changes… sort of. So if we’re not meant to sympathize with a guy who has serious impulse problems, why do we spend 100 minutes following his life in the first place?

I can go with the ending here: David’s not a family man, at least not in the way he envisioned. He’s a weather man. Sure. But if the crux rests on sacking up and making those difficult adult choices, I’m not sure I get it. To be honest, David socking it to his son’s molester counselor feels cathartic, but it’s still a shortsighted action that either version of David Spritz, original or “changed” would probably take.

Finally, today in pieces of self reflection:

I think “old me” would have thoroughly enjoyed a montage of Nic Cage getting pelted with Chicken McNuggets and Big Gulps. Alas, I fear that my newly enlightened self now has sympathy for the man. But maybe Bad Lieutenant will right that wrong next week.

* * * * *

Want more Cage? You got it.


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