To start on a positive note, I have to admire the honesty of the writer and director in portraying the main character as unattractively as this. Nicholas Cage, who wants desperately to be liked, loved, and admired by his family members, gets - and deserves - none of the above. A lesser, more conventional movie would have gotten to the midpoint by showing that Dave Spritz - misunderstood but virtuous and likable - solving a problem by some ingenious means, with the rest of the movie devoted to showing his newly-acquired respect from Dad, ex-wife, and kids.
This isn't that movie. But neither is it very good at all - lots of things just don't make sense, are never really resolved (or they're just no exposition - they just hang there, like his daughter's smoking habit, or the existence of his mother - neither of these do anything for the film at all), or, worst, are internally contradictory without a hint of irony. During the movie, while coping with his father's sickness, the aftermath of divorce, and problems with the kids at home, it's shown how Dave is just barely able to cope. One would think that somebody this dysfunctional would be unable to find the studio for his New York audition, let alone do a creditable audition. Yet it appears to go well, and there's no concept that personal problems might create a problem performing up to standard.
Another contradictory element is his announcement in one of the nonsensical voice-overs how good his father (a Pulitzer-winning writer, played by Michael Caine by varying his face from "blank expression" to "Semi grin") was as a father. But - but - but - the whole movie is evidence to the contrary - are we seriously to believe that Robert Spritz couldn't do better than this? Or that his almost willful emotional disengagement from Dave is in any way admirable?
Dave Spritz plays a celebrity weather man who, evidently, fairly regularly gets hit with fast food and drinks from people in the street, for no reason whatsoever. I have never heard of this happening, I don't know why it would happen, and I don't know of how it even could happen in the manner in which it is depicted - picture this, you've just bought a Slurpee or a MacDonald's pie (presumably because you wanted to consume them) when you see a man that may or may not be somebody you see on TV occasionally for three minutes at a time. Do you
a. point out the person to whoever you're with b. ask the man for his autograph c. Immediately, without thinking about it for more than half a second, throw your consumable at him, accurately enough to hit him in the head?
I don't know anyone who would ever consider (c). As a follow-up, if you're a minor celebrity and people occasionally come up and ask for your autograph do you a. smile and give it to them b. give them some conversation, some banter, some interaction c. verbally pick a fight with them, ending with mutual acrimony
Again, I can't imagine a minor celebrity who would ever pick (c). Throughout the movie, in fact, it's astonishing that Dave Spritz stays in one piece; he picks verbal and physical fights with his daughter, his ex-wife, his ex-wife's boyfriend (who has committed no sin other than having played either stupid or mobster or both types in other movies), two semi-fans, the counselor who has come on to his son - I was waiting for him to get into it with Bryant Gumbel. One would think that the climax of the movie would reveal some deep-seated reason for all this anger (like, maybe, his dad treats him like dirt on a good day?) but it was not to be - it's just something to happen on screen
Overall, it's one of those movies that, in their insistence on not being conventional - the desire, perhaps, to have a whiff of "indie" sensibility - loses sight of any hope of being edifying, original, or, in the end, entertaining in more than the most superficial way. It's the sort of part that Jim Carrey has been taking too often these days, and it doesn't look any better on Cage than Carrey.
The final irritating event/theme of the movie (perhaps it's meant ironically, but I doubt it) is the flat contradiction of his father's advice about "'Easy' doesn't enter into grown-up life...." blah blah blah, contrasted with Dave's career accomplishments. If what Dave wants from his dad is just the right platitude, and this is it, Dave's life and career is a direct refutation of this one - he admits that his job doesn't take any knowledge whatsoever. And how hard does he have to work at even the things he works at? Archery isn't exactly the Green Berets, Dave, nor is it doing anybody in the world any good, unlike something like charity work, volunteering, or trying to be other than completely self-involved. All in all, I would not recommend this picture.
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