February 5 is National Weatherperson’s Day, in case you weren’t aware. Interesting, isn’t it, that the day set aside to commemorate those who tell us when hurricanes are bearing down on us and when you should carry along an extra jacket just in case should come so soon after Groundhog Day? If there is one movie that is the iconic portrait of the weatherman, it must be “Groundhog Day” right? Of course, it wouldn’t make much sense to compete with all the attention given the little furry weather prognosticator on his special day, but while his prediction is still whirling in the fog of consciousness three days later, you should also give a special nod to the guys who descend on the groundhog’s hole to turn him into the media celebrity he has become. Another way is to watch movies with weatherpersons as important characters.
Why not make a weekend of it? Or a week, as the case may be. Kick off the lead-in to National Weatherpersons Day a few days early by combining your meteorological-based movie marathon with “Groundhog Day” on Groundhog Day. Bill Murray, as you probably already know, plays a TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop in which he continues to wake up to February 2 over and over and over again. Estimates are that Murray spends roughly the equivalent of ten years of his life stuck in “Groundhog’s Day.” He takes advantage of this opportunity to learn difficult, time-consuming tasks, dig up the dirt on local citizenry, fall in love and, ultimately, become a better man. Unlike his former movie buddy, Dustin Hoffman, he doesn’t require dressing as a woman to learn the latter.
To Die For
I never really thought much of Nicole Kidman as an actress before “To Die For.” I think it’s still her finest performance, by far. Kidman plays a typical local weather girl hired more for looks than science, but even that isn’t good enough for her. When you think of the great movies of recent decades made about ambition that tilts over into the arena of psychosis, “To Die For” must be included in the discourse. Kidman totally inhabits the character and dominates the movie, but check out those two relative unknowns in supporting roles: Joaquin Phoenix and Casey Affleck. “To Die For” also contains Matt Dillon’s second best performance, right behind that little movie about that girl named Mary.
Steve Martin is an appropriately offbeat local weather personality in his last comedy outing to flirt with the surreal. Martin also wrote the script for this densely layered look at the Los Angeles culture, or lack thereof, on a group of upper middle class citizens. The story itself is not Martin’s greatest achievement; rather, it’s the eccentric touches such as the highway traffic sign that is communicating with him and a wonderful sequence set in an art gallery.
Bill Pullman…I mean Bill Paxton, plays an actual meteorologist who has taken a job as a weatherperson. Jodie Foster…I mean Helen Hunt, plays his once and future main squeeze. Together they kick standing in front of a green screen to the curb and take to the country roads of the Midwest to search for the next big “Twister.” You won’t learn much about being a weatherperson from this movie, but you do gain valuable knowledge on what to do should a cow cross your path in midair during a tornado.