Nicolas Cage is an actor who has a lot of goodwill from the public. His public persona and acting career are satirized in the action-comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Nick Cage (Cage) has hit a rough patch. He’s unable to get roles, he’s in debt, and his relationship with his daughter (Lily Sheen) and ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) is rocky. After one blow too many, Nick agrees to attend a birthday party for a wealthy fan, Javi (Pedro Pascal), a Spanish Olive Tycoon. Unfortunately, as Nick gets close to Javi, he gets approached by the CIA, who tells the actor Javi is actually an arms dealer. They believe he has kidnapped the President of Catalonia’s daughter.
Nicolas Cage has had a varied career. He has won an Oscar, starred in hit action movies, worked with acclaimed directors, and appeared in a lot of straight-to-DVD crap. He has been the figure of memes because of his wild facial expressions, the one-liners he spouted, and some of the trash he has appeared in. Clips from The Wicker Man remake are often used for gifs and memes. He had been ridiculed for years because of his prolificity. However, in recent years, Cage has gone from a figure of mockery to being seen as cool again. He has had a career renaissance like Keanu Reeves has experienced.
Cage has always come across as someone who puts effort into his performances or at least tries to have fun in his roles. He doesn’t seem like he half-arsed it like other big-name actors who performed in straight-to-DVD/VOD films. This ensured Cage had a lot of goodwill from audiences.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was a self-aware film. It played on many aspects of Cage’s acting style. He got to do his intense voice for the over-blown dialogue, shouty Cage appeared, and Cage got to have some serious moments when his character reached a low. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent referred to Cage movies: there were clips of films like Con Air, and The Rock was shown, some dialogue scenes were shot like an action film, and one scene appeared like it was lifted from a Michael Bay film.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent does touch on some aspects of Cage’s career and personal issues. In real life Cage was famously in debt, which led him to star in so many VOD films. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent plays on this because Cage says to his therapist that he is not satisfied with being prolific and agreed to attend the birthday party because he was desperate for the money.
Acting narcissism and insecurities were also a part of Nick’s character in the film. Nick Cage was occasionally visited by an alternative version of himself called Nicky. Nicky acted as a devil on Nick’s shoulder and was the voice of doubt at the same time. Nicky was telling Nick that the actor is a goddamn movie star and should be going for those roles. The relationship between them even had some overt homoeroticism which added to the ideas of narcissism and self-doubt.
The heart of the film was the relationship between Nick and Javi. Their friendship grows during the film. Nick goes from being a man in Spain out of obligation to finding a kindred spirit with the Spaniard because they were both cinema snobs and potential creative partners. Cage and Pascal had great chemistry together as they talked about their project, took LSD, and experienced the glory of Paddington 2. They made a great comedic duo and had the best bromance since Hot Fuzz.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent became an action film in the third act. As an action film, it was perfectly decent. A lot of the fun of the film turning into actionfest was so it could parody and pay homage to the tropes of the genre, which was great fun for an action junkie. There was great enjoyment hearing Cage spout one-liners and over-written dialogue. Watching the film made me want to see Cage in an action flick directed by Chad Stahelski or David Leitch.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent did boast a solid supporting cast. It featured the likes of Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, and Neil Patrick Harris. Harris’ casting was particularly fitting because he played a fictionalized version of himself in the Harold and Kumar films. As a Brit, I appreciated Horgan’s casting as Cage’s fictional ex-wife. She acted like a rational, normal person in an extraordinary situation.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was a film made for Cage’s devoted fan base, and it delivered. It was hilarious, a self-aware film with a tremendous double act at its core.