Containing very strong language, sex and sex references, all the way from 2005, it’s The Weather Man!
Nicolas Cage plays Dave Spritz, a dissatisfied Chicago weatherman who gets on badly with his ex-wife, worries that he’s disappointing his father and struggles to relate to his children. Despite the packaging’s insistence that it’s a ‘bright and breezy’, ‘fresh and quirky’ comedy that will ‘brighten your day’, it’s actually a pretty morose film, and most of the comedy comes from people throwing fast food at Cage from car windows.
At one point, Spritz wonders why people take such a dislike to him that they throw food in his face. The scene cuts to a couple on a couch watching the weather and the man grumbling: ‘he’s an asshole, I don’t like his face. His asshole face.’ This was one of the only jokes in the film that made me laugh. Do my job for me, extra man, analyze Cage’s face all you like!
I don’t agree that he had an ‘asshole face’ though – I think this film just had a promotional tie in with assholes, and was contracted to mention them every few minutes. The tone is all over the place: it’s sweary and sentimental, bleak and goofy – and extremely charmless allover, in my opinion. Just thinking about the dubious tropes it throws around is making me feel punchy, so I’m going to go back to the calmer waters of Cage’s face.
As usual, it wraps itself around the role. In Bad Lieutenant we noticed a throbbing vein on his temple, in Adaptation his receding hairline, in Ghostrider his blue eyes. Here, the dimple in his chin seemed particularly prominent, perhaps emphasizing him as an American, an idea that is very important to the film (Michael Caine, playing his father, kept talking about Spritz’s ‘American Career’ as a weatherman.)
I mean, Bill Murray could probably be said to have an ‘asshole face’, but one of the many problems with this film is that Nicolas Cage is not Bill Murray. You might remember that in Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a grouchy grumbling asshole weatherman who eventually turns himself around during his spell in Sonny and Cher purgatory. Well, in The Weatherman, Cage plays Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day as Bill Murray’s character in Lost in Translation, The Life Aquatic and Broken Flowers.
It’s a hobby horse of mine, I admit, but I find Bill Murray and his sad face quite unbearable in these films, and I’m not best pleased to see Cage doing an impression of him. He lumbers around, speaking in a monotone and staring out of the windows of high rise buildings; it’s pretty uninspiring, although the shots of frozen Chicago that provide a backdrop to Spritz’s dour furrows are quite remarkable.
Basically, he’s a self-pitying character. To paraphrase B*Witched, he blames it on anyone but the weatherman.
This is a film with some truly odd motifs. Archery, Fast Food Throwing, Spongebob Squarepants and Cameltoe (the less said about that the better) are all reoccurring plot points. For the weatherman, nothing is too bizarre to lead to a transcendental moment. The strangest example of this is when Spritz lays slumped in a chair as a parade passes by in the street below. As sad violins strike up, an enormous Spongebob balloon drifts past the window, as if taunting him with its care-free spongy face.
Is this a joke? It didn’t seem like a joke, but then the jokes in the film didn’t feel like jokes either.
Sometimes, the film began to sound like a chose your own adventure book. In a quasi peep-show way, we can hear some of Spritz’s thoughts in voice-over, mostly when he’s staring mournfully out of windows, but at one point leading to a bizarre digression about tartare sauce: ‘If I had remembered the tartare sauce, would things have been different?’ Spritz speculates about his marriage, although unfortunately we don’t get to turn to page 85 to find out.
In the end, Spritz takes the money-spinning weather job at ‘Hello America’, and in his semi-triumphant closing monologue makes peace with his own American career. As he strides triumphantly down the street, the spongebob balloon behind him (I swear!), he thinks: “All of the people I could be, they got fewer and fewer until finally they got reduced to only one — and that’s who I am. The weather man.”
So there we are. He’s not sliding down the doom slide for ever and ever, but he hasn’t escaped from the carnival of horrors either. He’s just a weatherman.
Take it away, B*Witched.