Cage's Dave Spritz works in a 24 degree Chicago - it's cold and icy and when this film was made the White Sox had not yet won the World Series. Spritz works in front of his green screen and is a well known character on the streets of Chicago. Being recognized off camera allows those who dislike him to spray him with soft drinks. It happens a number of times during the film, perhaps too often.
While his daughter Shelly (Gemmenne DeLaPena) learns ballet and smokes he attempts to interest her in archery. After snapping the bow string on her wrist a number of times she quits and he takes up the game which becomes important to him as the story progresses. His son Mike, the most stable member of the separated family, appears unaware that his math teacher is attempting to hit on him. Noreen (Hope Davis), his wife lives in a mansion with her new lover Russ (Michael Rispoli) and the two kids while Spritz lives in a high-rise overlooking the city.
As Verbinski has his characters sounding like Dragnet from time to time, Robert Spritzel, Dave's father (Michael Caine) a Pulitzer prize winner, considers Dave's two hundred fifty-thousand dollar job simply reading with zero contribution. But dad makes the point that parents worry about kids no matter how old they are and that effects him. Dave Spritz is on the outside looking in at home and at work. An opportunity arises when he has the chance to audition for the two point two million dollar spot on "Hello, America" in New York.
His father comes down with cancer and he observes his daughter, who is overweight, dresses so badly the boys have an insulting name for her. One trip to New York places him in a position to achieve a new network spot, dress his daughter more fashionably and offer hope of a cure for his father. Back home standing in front of his wife's home he mumbles "someone should be happy in this house," but his kids are failing at life even when there is plenty of cash go around. To him we are alone and it's only a dream that folks can be happy; then when the lights go out at a living funeral, things truly unravel and Dave Spritz finally condemns flying fast food.
Don't expect your local weather man to be like Dave Spritz, but each would probably enjoy ending up like Dave, in-front of the green screen, hitting the bulls eye and leading Sponge Bob in a New York parade.