In this movie, David Spritz (Nicolas Cage) pays tribute to his father, Robert (an immaculate performance by Michael Caine) by quoting a Bob Seger song. So I’ll begin my review with a quote from a Bob Dylan song: “You don’t need a weather man to know which way the wind is blowing.”
Spritz is the weather man for a Chicago television station. He stands in front of a green screen and points at cold fronts and snow flurries, making cheerful jokes and predicting each week’s “nipper” (coldest temperature).
People keep throwing things at him, mostly fast food. He’s been hit by a Super Big Gulp, by hot apple pie, by a shake. He feels like he lets everyone down. He does not know what to do. He’s a whether man. There’s a constant ticking sound in the score that could suggest a clock or it could suggest a time bomb.
His Pulitzer Prize-winning father is disappointed in him. His 12-year-old daughter Shelli (Gemmenne de la Pena) is unhappy and overweight. His 15-year-old son Mike (Nicholas Hoult of About a Boy) is getting counseling because he was caught with marijuana. His ex-wife(Hope Davis) has a boyfriend who seems to get along better with his kids than he does.
David is a man whose job is predicting what the wind will do, and that feels as far out of his control as the rest of his life. He keeps thinking that if he could just “knuckle down” he would find the right words to make everyone happy with him. Or maybe, if he could just get the job of being weather man for the network “Hello America” show, then everyone would be proud of him and everything would work out at last.
And then David’s father is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and all he can think of is how little time he has to show his father that he has not completely messed up.
Cage, Caine, and Davis are always worth watching and the movie conveys well the feelng of middle-age desperation, simultaneously failing your parents and children and finding that all the “somedays” of your youth are almost used up. But even the movie’s hopeful moments have a sour feeling. Can it possibly be that the movie wants us to think that buying new clothes or punching someone is the way to solve a problem — or likely to impress either parents or children?
David might shatter the ice on an archery target with a well-aimed arrow, but he never brings that sense of control or focus to the miserable problems around him. It’s disconcerting that he continues to be self-centered and superficial while the point of view of the movie seems to be that he has had some kind of breakthrough. He may have achieved acceptance; we have not.
Parents should know that this movie has very strong and crude langauge, brief nudity, illustration of the term “Cameltoe,” and sexual references, including oral sex, attempted seduction/molestation of a teenager, and pornography, and sexual situations. Characters drink. There is a sad death, a fistfight, and one character points a weapon at another.
Families who see this movie should talk about why David found it so hard to be the person he wanted to be and the person he thought his father and children and ex-wife wanted him to be. What was David good at? What did he need to do to be a better father? A better son?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Wonder Boys and Save the Tiger.