The enigma of the thespian world, Nicolas Cage. The man who can go from dramatic action actor to crazy in the snap of a finger, and he is beloved by almost everyone. No wonder then we have a film that celebrates the man with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. I say “celebration of his career”, but in reality, I’d say this film is more akin to a thank you letter to fans of Nicolas Cage from himself because, in terms of range, you get every Nic Cage there has ever been in this film.
The good news about this film is that it has several strong points that could easily be something a viewer enjoys the most, it’s great to see a film accomplish this because you have films that are good, but everyone agrees on that one element that makes it good and doesn’t really have anything else that can stand up to that one extreme positive. I’ll begin with the first strong point of this film being very self-referential and meta. Nicolas Cage has to entertain a millionaire superfan and gang boss, Javi (Pedro Pascal). The two bond after discovering they have similar taste in film and Javi desperately wants Nic Cage to star in, they come up with another film together and what they describe, ultimately ends up being this film, two parts character/performance-driven, one part run of the mill action flick. Although the film does get a little weaker during the final third, I’ve opted to give it the benefit of the doubt because it still doesn’t distract from the fun time you can have watching this film.
Most of that fun time is mostly responsibly for the incredible chemistry Cage and Pascal have. Essentially, Javi is living out every Nic Cage fan’s dream. Bonding, drinking champagne in the pool with Cage, ad-libbing and acting out typical Cage scenarios. There’s even a scene where Nicolas Cage practically acknowledges and embraces the creepier side of his internet fandom, but it is done on a very charming level. You completely forget that Javi is supposedly this very dangerous crime boss because you’re too busy having a laugh out loud time watching Pascal and Cage comedically bounce off one another.
But don’t just think this is a film about Nic Cage and a superfan gang boss, there is a family drama that works into the setup. Nic Cage has a troubling relationship with his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and his 16-year-old daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen) who hates the classic films Nic Cage is trying to introduce her to. This family drama isn’t the main show and quite frankly I don’t think there will be many who say it was more necessary than setting up the fictionalised Nic Cage character, but it does play out as an additional feel-good factor that makes the film a much lighter watch.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is not without its more talentless moments, which is a shame because they either come down to too much or too little of something. For instance, I felt the whole Nic Cage working for the CIA angle dominated too much when it comes into play. Agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) play their part, but they are pretty indispensable. As soon as they were introduced, I was reminded of the 2014 film The Interview with Seth Rogen and James Franco in terms of tone. This film even has a scene that pretty much mirrors a scene from The Interview and it’s here where I found myself disinterested, wanting to return to Nic Cage just being Nic Cage and not an agent.
While the spy angle was too much, what we get too little of is Nic Cage’s interaction with his younger, full-blown wacky Cage conscious Nicky, who resembled a young Nicolas Cage from Wild at Heart. If you want a taste of what this character is like, there is a video of Nic Cage being interviewed by Terry Wogan in 1990. I loved this side of the film because we get the two most common personas of Nic Cage interreacting together with some of the most outrageous comedic moments of the film. The problem is that Nicky is only in the film for a couple of scenes. Given more attention, this element of the story could have provided a bigger inner conflict instead of a few back-and-forth banter between the two.
At the end of the day, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is hugely funny and a sweet display from an actor who appreciates the love he receives from millions all over the world. Unquestionably, this is a film for his fans, and I don’t think there is going to be a single Nicolas Cage fan who would walk out of the cinema feeling like their hero spoke to them directly. Also Mr. Cage, one of my favourite films is also The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, hit me up.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
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