The Weather Man

Dramedy. Very thoughtful, at times profound, ultimately cynical worldview. Nicolas Cage is a ladder-climbing weather man on the local channel who is struggling to get his big break as a national weather man in New York. Trouble is, he is estranged from his wife and kids, and can’t seem to figure out why they always argue and fight and what he did to get to this place of misery in his life. A universal dilemma: Should he go for the big career and leave his family behind or should he stay in the small time job to reconcile and rebuild with his family. Or is this even possible? A great quandary of a story. This story is an incarnation of Ecclesiastes, but without God as the answer. It is Nietzschean existentialism in that Cage is a man who struggles with his lack of real meaning. And life in this movie is portrayed as full of pain and misery. Cage’s father (Michael Caine) is dying of inoperable lymphoma, Cage’s teen daughter is obese and entirely apathetic, as all too many teens are these days. And Cage’s son is unbeknownst to all, being hit on by a child molester who is his shrink. Caine, the father, a Pulitzer prize winner whom Cage tries desperately and unsuccessfully to win his acceptance, has come to realize that all he has accomplished in life will not help him when he is dead. He calls this a “shitty life.” The central metaphor of the film, is of course, the weather, and how unpredictable it is. The fact of the matter is, everyone wants to be able to predict it, wants to plan their lives around it, but in fact, at the end of the day, you just can’t do it. Cage gets so impatient with all the citizens who approach him on the street asking what the forecast is, and he tells them, he doesn’t know, you can’t know. And they of course get angry with him, because of their faith in his predicting ability. As one weather pro tells us, “It’s just wind. It blows all over the place. I don’t predict it.” And as Cage echos this in his realization, “things didn’t work out the way I predicted.” It’s actually quite reminiscent of Ecclesiastes, Eccl. 1:14 “I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. Eccl. 2:17 So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.” And then there is the thread of how many times others throw food at him from their cars when they see him on the sidewalk. All a very bittersweet comedy that Cage does so superbly, mixing the dregs of life with it’s humorous moments. Cage’s revelation occurs when he realizes that his ontological reality is throw away cheapness without value. Or as he quips, “I’m fast food.” This is all standard existentialism and is really quite authentic and thoughtful. The problem is that it remains in death without hope or transcendence. By the end of the story, Cage notes, that “every year, the possibilities of who I could be get reduced to one, who I am.” He concludes that you must “become what you are,” as Nietzsche would put it. Rather than changing and reconciling or beginning the way toward healing, as most mainstream movies would do (indeed as Cage’s other movies often do, like Family Man), The Weather Man opts out for remaining “eternally the same,” that is, Cage accepts who he is as who he is supposed to be, or rather become, and resigns himself to his world of big city national weather, leaving his family in the dust. A rather unsatisfying decision in my mind that is trying to be “realistic,” but I consider it really just nihilistic. Ironically, his father, who is dying, retains some shred of understanding and transcendence when he mentors Cage that “nothing of value in life is gotten without sacrifice.” And in relation to whether he should take the job in NY or stay near his family, the father says, “The hardest thing to do and the right thing to do are often the same thing.” Cage doesn’t take his dad’s advice though and ends up choosing himself over his family. This was a story with great potential, indeed some actual great insights, that ultimately suffers from it’s nihilistic vision packaged in a “get real” cloak. One of the offensive elements was the cussing. The F-word was so inappropriately used in this story that one could only get the impression that this is another cynical foul-mouthed Hollywood writer’s interpretation of normal people getting real. Doesn’t work. Isn’t real. Wasn’t necessary. The storytellers would do wise to consider the words of King Solomon, Eccl. 2:24 “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. 25 For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?”