Popular Chicago weatherman Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage) has a shot at the big time when a national morning television show calls him for an audition. Professionally, Dave is on top of the world, but his personal life is in complete disarray. The harder he tries to hold on, the more he loses his grip. His painful divorce, his Pulitzer Prize-winning dad's (Michael Caine) illness, and trouble with his kids have Dave poised on the knife's edge between stability and calamity. Trying to gain control of his situation, Dave slowly comes to realize that life, much like the weather, is completely unpredictable.
Nobody does comic existential angst like Nicolas Cage, who gets a good workout in The Weather Man
, an underrated slice of quiet desperation. Cage plays David Spritz, a Chicago TV meteorologist who knows only too well the constant uncertainty of predicting the weather. Despite a possible offer from a network morning show, David's life is a mess: he's estranged from his kids and irritated wife (Hope Davis), he's perpetually at odds with his remote father (Michael Caine), and lately people on the street have had the disconcerting habit of throwing food at him. Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean
) has perhaps too heavy a touch for this kind of comic melancholy, but screenwriter Steven Conrad has an interesting, almost Mamet-like ear for "written" dialogue--Cage has a few voiceover monologues, including an uproarious sequence involving tartar sauce and a walk to the store, that are hugely funny. It's possible that we've seen Cage in this kind of character one too many times, but he's still good at it, and his doleful face and pasted-on smile fit the mood of the picture. Unlike the heroes of most Hollywood movies, David Spritz doesn't always--or often--do the right thing, but Cage makes you want to see the poor sap make it. --Robert Horton