Dave Spritz, the star of The Weather Man, may be the world’s worst successful television personality. As a popular weatherman at a major affiliate in Chicago, Spritz delivers the daily forecast like a bipolar who’s able to time his manic episodes to correspond with the camera’s red on-air light.
During his off-air moments, Dave (Nicolas Cage) certainly experiences enough trouble to feed to his depressed side. His marriage is on the rocks; his father (Michael Caine), a Pulitzer-prize winning author, doesn’t respect the man Dave has become; his daughter is struggling with obesity, and his son with drugs.
The only thing going well in Dave’s life, his career, is the one thing he takes no pride in. Though he continually tries to impress his dying father and his estranged wife (Hope Davis) with the news that he’s a finalist for a national morning show hosted by Bryant Gumble, he’s acutely aware that his profession is sometimes little more than a magic act. No one can always predict the mood swings of Mother Nature. “It's wind for ******’*-sake,” an exasperated Dave screeches at a fan who inquires about the next day’s forecast, “who the **** knows?!”
Dave's lack of meteorological expertise (an off-air meteorologist feeds him his weathercasts) compounds his insecurity. He feels like a fraud, no more substantial on screen than Sponge Bob Squarepants. But Dave’s lack of knowledge doesn’t bother most of his viewers in the Windy City, they simply love his irreverent ways around the blue screen.
For anyone familiar with television news, this creates one of the film’s major problems.
Cage does such a good job seeming like a storm about to break that it’s hard to imagine how anyone could respond favorably to his forced, frenzied cheeriness. Perhaps that’s why a small section of Dave’s audience reacts to seeing him on the street by throwing all manner of fast food at him - tacos, chicken wings, Frosties and Big Gulps - whatever they have handy.
This barrage of flying objects is made to look common to the life of weathermen, but as the wife of a weatherman, I have to say no one has ever thrown so much as a peanut at my husband (I, of course, have considered it, but I can’t see that he’s ever given anyone else much reason to).
Megan Basham is the author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide To Having It All
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