"Popular Chicago weatherman, Dave Spirtz, 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. Dave's painful divorce, his dad's illness and trouble with his kids have him poised on the knife's edge between stability and disaster. The harder he tries to control events, the more he finds life, like the weather, is completely unpredictable."
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THE WEATHER MAN

movie trailer (apple.com - quicktime)

NOTE: This Spoiler was sent in by Tracy who says..."The movie has some really hilarious moments as well as some dark and uncomfortable themes. Great views of Chicago. All in all, excellent and worth experiencing."

The movie opens on a close-up of frozen Lake Michigan. We cut to Nicolas Cage as Dave Spritz, a local weather man in Chicago, preparing for his day at work. He is watching Bryant Gumbel's national morning show, "Hello America," and we find out in the next few minutes that he is up for the job on this show. He lives by himself in a fancy apartment, and is good at what he does. He goes to the DMV and gets asked for his autograph in line, but he is kind of a jerk to the fan.

Next, we see Dave leaving work and his assistant is advising him on his schedule. He has to pick up his daughter from dance and take his dad (Michael Caine) Robert Spritzel to Northwestern Medical Center. Dave makes sure to take the letter from "Hello America" to place on the car seat so his dad can see it. He explains in voice over that his dad is a National Book and Pulitzer Prize winning author. Dave's daughter, Shelly, is around 12, overweight and generally unhappy. She asks Dave to drop her off by a mini-mart where she purchases cigarettes to smoke with a friend. Robert says that Shelly should not be in dancing because it doesn't suit her, and Dave talks about how she expressed interest in archery once. He bought the equipment for her only to have her lose interest after one lesson (of a 5-lesson package).

Robert gets in the car and sits right on the letter, not noticing it. He and Dave go to Northwestern for his tests, and while waiting, share awkward silence. Robert asks Dave to get a newspaper for him while he is seeing the doctor. Dave has only one dollar and some change in his wallet, and loses the quarter when he puts it in the newspaper dispenser only to let go of the lid before he gets the newspaper. He goes to Wendy's to get change, but they won't give him any, so he buys a coffee which leaves him with not enough change to get the paper. This is symbolic of Dave's relationship with his father. He has the best intentions but ends up looking like a doofus. Robert says, "You had enough money to buy a coffee, but not a paper?" Dave is too embarrassed to explain, and takes a sip of coffee in awkward response. We also learn that Robert, although aloof, is very concerned about the family, and wants Dave to save the marriage. From the tests, Robert finds out he has lymphoma, and his doctor suggests he goes to New York to see if he can be in some clinical trials.

At this point, Dave explains why he gets hit with food and drinks a lot (happens throughout the movie). To start, he changed his name from "Spritzel" to "Spritz" at the advice of a producer years ago to be more showbiz-ready. He admits this is an annoying name and adds to his ridiculous role of weather man. All he does is read some prompts, which he did not write himself, for a couple hours a day and make some pretty high-paying appearances at silly events. Everything comes easy for him -- he gets $240K a year plus appearances, lands women easily, etc. So he figures the price he pays is an occasional soda or burrito thrown at him.

Shelly and Mike (around 15), Dave's daughter and son, each have their own issues. Shelly is overweight but wears tight outfits so she gets called "camel toe" at school. This leads to a funny sequence where the meaning of this is explained, and it's actually brought to light by Robert who hears it when he picks Shelly up from school. Robert explains (funny moment) to Dave what it is and that something should be done for her to avoid the name-calling. Mike is recently out of rehab for a supposed pot problem, but he seems like a nice kid (never see him smoking). His drug counselor keeps hitting on him, buying clothes for him, inviting him to dinner and taking pictures of him with his shirt off. It's a dark sub-plot that doesn't get too deep, but you get the picture.

Dave drops his kids off at home and has a brief encounter with his ex-wife Noreen (Hope Davis). She is polite but keeps her distance. He tries to loosen things up by throwing a snowball at her but ends up pelting her in the face badly. Eventually, Dave asks Noreen if she would consider couples counseling to save the marriage, especially because he is up for an interview and would like to move the family to New York if he gets the job. She goes, but he ends up ruining things when he looks at a note he isn't supposed to (as part of the therapy). Turns out Noreen hated the science fiction novel Dave spent 4 years writing, and this is the "secret" she puts on paper that is not meant to be seen. Dave can't hold it in and bursts at dinner, saying that she didn't understand the book. They fight on the way home she ends up declaring her hate for him in front of Shelly (accidentally).

In an effort to bond with Shelly, Dave takes her to his company's winter festival, where they ice skate. He sees that she has cigarettes in her bag but says nothing. They participate in a three-legged race and fall miserably, but Dave insists that they finish. Shelly is very upset and angry that Dave forces her even though she's clearly not up for it. She returns home in a brace having torn her ACL and MCL, and Dave has to face an angry Noreen. At this point we see that Noreen has a boyfriend, Russ, who steps in when Dave and Noreen are arguing. Dave is clearly uncomfortable and mad that there is another man in the picture and cusses him out (pretty hilarious) to Robert's dismay (who happens to be there to see Noreen).

Robert and Shelly go with Dave to New York. Robert for his tests and Shelly just to bond a little. Before the interview, Dave imagines the future-- he and his family in a parade, on a float, everything fixed and all better. The interview goes well and Dave is distracted but seems to be in a good position and a huge raise ($1 million annually). He takes Shelly clothes shopping and buys her fancy stuff from Saks -- it's a good moment for the two. They return from shopping to find out that Mike has been arrested for allegedly attacking his counselor in the car. Dave and Noreen fight on the phone, again in Robert's earshot. Dave is sure that Mike is telling the truth, that the counselor came on to him. Robert learns that he is not eligible for clinical trials and he has only 3-4 months left to live.

They go home and Dave has some issues to face. He goes home to find out how Mike is, and Russ is there. While Russ is explaining what happened, Dave slaps him with his gloves. (Really funny) Although Dave is clearly ashamed after, he can't help himself in the moment. He has also taken up archery lessons on his own and it seems to be an outlet for him. He takes Shelly out again and tries to teach her himself, but she is really just not interested. He asks her if she gets called names like "camel toe" at school and she says she does. He asks if she knows what that means, and she says, "It means I'm tough, because a camel toe is tough." It's a heartbreaking moment because she is just an innocent kid, and her and Dave bond. (He doesn't correct her on the meaning, of course.)

Dave's mom decides to have a living funeral for Robert, so he can see everyone before he dies. Right before the funeral, someone throws a McDonald's apple pie on Dave on the street. This time, Dave chases the car down and after yelling at the guy, rubs the pie in his face. Dave's frustration is at a high. At the living funeral, Dave starts to make a speech. He says, "When I think of my dad, I think of Bob Seger's 'Like a Rock'." Right then the electricity goes out. Dave never gets a chance to finish the speech, another source of disappointment. He asks Noreen again if they can save the marriage, and she tells him that she's going to marry Russ. To calm down, Dave goes outside and starts shooting bows at a tree. He sees Russ outside smoking and slowly points the bow towards him. Another awkward moment for him as Russ goes to show Noreen what's happening, and we see that Dave's entire family can see him point this bow at Russ. He puts it down and goes inside.

Dave reflects on the things that went wrong. He wonders if he marriage could be saved if he had just remembered the tartar sauce Noreen asked him to get once. He looks at his (beautiful) house from outside and wonders how he managed to mess everything up, how people should be happy in a house like that. Around this time, Dave is offered the "Hello America" position but is torn.

To rectify possible charges against Mike, Dave goes with him to the counselor's house. Dave also reflects on why people throw fast food at him all the time, and who would deserve that, during this scene. Leaving Mike in the car, Dave walks up, throws all the gifts at him and basically kicks his butt. He warns him to not file charges because he knows what he did was wrong, and Mike is just a kid. Afterwards, Dave and Mike go eat and they have a nice bonding moment. Robert at some point here also sees Dave's knuckles from the fight and is glad/proud that Dave took care of it.

On the way into his apartment one day, Robert pulls up in his car and calls out to Dave. Robert puts on "Like a Rock" and says, "I don't get it." Dave then explains that it's just about one verse, I think the lines "I held firmly to what was right." Robert then tells Dave that he is proud of him for achieving "American success" and making more money than he ever did. He says he worries about him and that parents will always worry about their kids. He also mentions that he read his science fiction novel, which Dave admits he recently deleted. Dave then breaks down and says that Noreen is getting remarried and the marriage can't be saved. Robert tells him, "In this shit life, we have to chuck some things."

Next, we see that some time has passed and Robert has died. It is pouring at the funeral, and the entire family is there. Dave has accepted the job in New York and moved on his own (without the family). Noreen is married to Russ, and the family watches Dave's weather report while getting ready in the morning. We see Dave practicing archery, and he is approached by a fan. He is much nicer this time. He says he doesn't get hit with things anymore, probably because he walks around with a bow and arrow. We see him on a parade float with Bryant Gumbel -- it's a different version of his dream, and it's not his family with him. Despite this, he recognizes the good in his life, too, and is more at peace. He talks about how things didn't work out the way he wanted, and it wasn't easy to accept, but as Robert told him, "Easy doesn't equate into grown-up life."

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