Landing squarely into the "What were they thinking?" category, The Weather Manout a Chicago TV weatherman whose personal life has run into a very bad forecast, acts like a slow, thick, dank gray fog rolling in and enveloping the senses. Not that Nicolas Cage, as the eponymous weather guy, and Michael Caine, as his successful writer father, aren't interesting to watch. But they aren't really believable as father and son and each only holds attention until thoughts of Leaving Las Vegas or Moonstruck or Alfie or The Ipcress File interrupt.

Imbued with the atmosphere of the steel and concrete center that Chicago is, and suggesting a soulless megalopolis of cold characters, The Weather Man tells the story of local TV personality David Spritz (Cage), whose family life, like the temperature to come, is zero. Ex-wife Noreen (Hope Davis) is about to remarry; Russ (Michael Rispoli) is not an impressive successor. Also unimpressive are David and Noreen's kids. Daughter Shelly (Gemmenne De La Pena) hardly sparkles and son Mike (About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult) is a colorless soul who may be the target of a child molester. Meanwhile, David has a difficult relationship with his accomplished dad Robert (Caine), a literary lion disappointed in his son and living with terminal cancer. Further aggravating David's miserable life are his viewers, some of whom throw fast food at him when they see him on the Chicago streets.

The only bright spot on the horizon for David is a big career boost as weatherman in New York for a network morning show. Whether he gets the gig or not turns out to be incidental. The point is: David's life is as empty as the blue screens he stands in front of for his weather reports and as throwaway as the fast food splattering on his clothes.

The notion of a weatherman standing in as the human equivalent of fast food isn't a bad one. (Junk comes in many incarnations.) It's just that it doesn't work here, in spite of the visual metaphors and Cage's voiceover, which makes the filmmakers' intent explicit.

One can imagine this film as a nasty, edgy, biting little indie. But all dressed up in slick Hollywood finery, it has nowhere to go. The forecast for this one? Cloudy, with barely any chance of early showers of interest.

-Doris Toumarkine