David Spritz (Nicholas Cage) is the depressed 40-ish Chicago television weatherman in search of his soul in this peculiar film that seems like it might be a comedy, but in reality is a serious enough drama. David is divorced from his wife Noreen (Hope Davis) and has two troubled children, Mike (Nicholas Hoult) who is being seduced by his court-appointed counselor, and the over-weight Shelly (Gemmenne de la Pena) who seems bored with life. David's father, Robert (Michael Caine), is concerned for his son and grandchildren. This deepens when he discovers he is dying of cancer. "You never stop worrying about your children." He encourages David to take special care of his Shelly who dresses in clothing that is unflattering and much too tight for her. He makes an effort to interest her in something and they take up archery. Her interest fizzles, but as David realizes there's more to life than doing nothing to try and be happy, he takes up the sport aggressively.
As David walks the streets of Chicago people continually throw fast food at him and he takes the abuse philosophically because he is the Weather Man. He also thinks he is like the fast food. He is in the throes of burnout caused by immaturity and can only express himself by using the f-word. Only his ex-wife uses it a little less frequently.
David is being courted by a New York television station. He takes Shelly with him for the interview and while there he buys her flattering, new clothes. Robert goes as well to see a specialist. The news is grim.
But he never stops encouraging his son. He tells David, "Do you know that the harder thing to do, and the right thing to do, are usually the same thing? "Easy" doesn't enter into grown-up life... to get anything of value, you have to sacrifice."
David decides to take the job in New York, that is, he decides to grow up
Without being preachy, The Weather Man is a dark, interesting film, full of angst and redemption by directed by Gore Virbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean I, II and III). The film's existential nature recalls Pope John Paul's doctoral thesis: The Acting Person : A Contribution to Phenomenological Anthropology (Analecta Husserliana) by Karol Wojtyla. Here, the man who would become pope asserts that God is pure act, and that we are in the image and likeness of God when we are "acting persons", who live in freedom and responsibility.
Some of the interesting aspects of the film for me were the metaphors -perhaps there were even too many of them. But the fast food, archery, shooting arrows at still statues of animals in a park, the f-word, and so forth, made sense to me, given the disposable culture, the sense of entitlement that can force us into an immature inertia as we wait to be saved, and the refusal to reflect before entering into commitments that will effect so many other lives (I thought David and Noreen both too immature at 40 to be married with children now going through their own troubles), and the ensuing frustration that does not provoke creativity but only the f-word, over and over. But doesn't this sound like much of our culture? Or the consequences of it?
There is one part when David realizes his daughter has an inner life. When he gently asks her if she knows the meaning of the suggestive name the other kids call her because of how she wears her clothes (camel hoof or something like that), she responds (in these or similar words), "It means I am tough, and I can survive and accomplish things." I think this is the moment in the film when David begins to change, because he and his daughter were finally able to communicate; they realize they can communicate. And he stops using the f-word
There is much more to this film than what I unpacked here, and I notice that it is already gone from theaters. Too bad. This is just the kind of film you want to see in a group and then talk about. It's not a comfort film, but it is a human one.