Thursday, June 11, 2009

Thoughts on The Weather Man

The Weather Man is a 2005 film from Gore Verbinski (perpetrator of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) about Dave Spritz (Nicolas Cage) a Chicago weatherman desperate to get his life together. He lives under the weight of his Pulitzer Prize-winning father (Michael Caine). He aches for the "Hello America with Bryant Gumbel" job, which he is sure will fix everything for him. He has two kids, each with plenty of problems of their own, products of his terminated marriage with his wife (Hope Davis). To add insult to emotional injury, he regularly has fast food thrown at him on the street. He suspects it might be because of the easy-ness of his job and the annoying-ness of his name.

They key element to the story that I want to mention here, though, is Dave's internal insistence that everything will be ok if he can just get the Hello America job. The night before his audition, he finds out his father has only months to live and that his son has been arrested. He auditions, and, several days later, is offered the job. He runs to tell his wife the wonderful news ("It's $1.2 million, all in...think of what that could do for us...") only to discover that she is planning to marry her new boyfriend. His major success, built upon the foundation of previous failure, is not enough to woo her. She doesn't love him. Money won't change that. He goes outside, and, through a series of circumstances you'll have to see the movie to appreciate, he is brought to the brink of actual, physical murder. He seems ready to throw it all away in the aftermath of being offered the very thing he thought he wanted; the very thing that he thought would make everything ok.

Dave ends the film with this stirring speech: "I remember once imagining what my life would be like, what I'd be like. I pictured having all these qualities, strong positive qualities that people could pick up on from across the room. But as time passed, few ever became any qualities that I actually had. And all the possibilities I faced and the sorts of people I could be, all of them got reduced every year to fewer and fewer. Until finally they got reduced to one, to who I am. And that's who I am, the weather man." Dave realizes that who is he is who he is, and getting a new job, a bigger house, or writing the great American novel can't change it.

The Christian analogy is this: we think we ought to be who we ought to be: a.k.a. What would Jesus do? In reality, however, all we can do is come to terms with who we actually are, and be thankful that Jesus loves us.

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