The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a blast and a whole lot of fun as the film teams Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal together.
One of them is the Mandalorian. The other one left Las Vegas, infiltrated The Rock, flew on Con Air, and discovered a national treasure not once but twice. Put them together in one of the wackiest comedies of 2022 and the result is just pure joy and entertainment.
Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) is loses his hotel room when he can no longer pay the bills. He has no choice but to accept $1 million from superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). On the verge of retiring from acting, Cage decides that he must make the trip to Spain. The income has to come in from somewhere and losing out on another role will not help matters. This doesn’t even begin to take into account family matters with ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addy (Lily Sheen). Cage shows up to Addy’s birthday party and makes a fool of himself. Addy is already feeling resentful because Nick is trying to mold her into a mini-Nick.
No sooner than his plan landing in Spain does Cage find himself in the middle of a CIA operation and being handled by Vivian (Tiffany Haddish). Her partner, Martin (Ike Barinholtz), doesn’t appear to be a fan of the situation but makes do with what they have. Before we know it, Cage is echoing every single on-screen role that we’ve ever seen before. If matters couldn’t get any worse, he has to save his own family from danger. Javi decides to fly Olivia and Addy to Spain because Nick is in a creative rut and needs to work through issues with his family. Sure, an action star like Liam Neeson could rush in and save the day but HE’S NOT NICOLAS CAGE! Very few actors have the ability to do what Cage does.
Where Nick has trouble in his relationship with Addy, he surprisingly bonds with Javi over their shared love of movies. It blows Cage’s mind that The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is one of Javi’s favorite films. The moment Javi reveals that Paddington 2 is one of his favorites tells you just how much of a cinephile he really is. Excuse me but now I’m in the mood to watch Paddington 2! “If you are kind and polite, the world will be right,” as our favorite bear says.
Javi initially wrote a script and he wants Cage to star in it. However, Cage read the script but doesn’t want to star in it. Instead, what they do is come up with a film of their own. It really becomes a love letter to Nicolas Cage’s life. Javi even has a memorabilia room devoted to Cage’s career. A bit much? Oh, for sure. The film also offers a bit of commentary on what Hollywood has become and how every film needs a marketing kick to get butts in seats. In this case, it’s a kidnapping and Cage must transform himself into a real-life action hero.
The character of Javi isn’t just a stand-in for the filmmakers but cinephiles, too. You cannot ask for a better performance from Pedro Pascal. He’s tasked with playing a character who is both dangerous and a superfan of Nicolas Cage. While I love his work in The Mandalorian, it’s also nice to see what else he can do when the helmet isn’t on. The Mandalorian was my first real introduction to his work but I’m loving his range of comedy in both The Bubble and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. It would be a mistake if Lionsgate doesn’t push Pascal for Best Supporting Actor.
With everything going on, there are times where Cage is having conversations with Nicky (also Cage in an Adaptation homage of sorts). It’s a throwback to his Wild at Heart days but also Nicky wants Nick to be a movie star again. I love the energy that Cage brings to portraying this younger self. The two are at very different points and Nick would just rather leave Nicky behind. Could you blame him with all the narcissism?
The film offers us an exaggerated version of Nicolas Cage’s life but it’s a love letter to the actor nonetheless. I mean, this is a film that gives us exactly what a Nicolas Cage film should be. There’s no hunt for a national treasure but Cage is in the thick of the action. But really, the version we get of Cage comes by way of Tom Gormican’s imagination based on public interviews and media/internet perception. As such, we’re getting someone who is neurotic and runs on high-anxiety. Hell, Chicago film critic Keith Phipps has written an entire book on the actor, Age of Cage. This speaks to the pop culture icon that Nicolas Cage has become! Anyway, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten wrote the film on a whim and the result is one of the year’s best comedies so far.
Hollywood could make more Marvel and Star Wars films but the industry needs to make more films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
DIRECTOR: Tom Gormican
SCREENWRITERS: Tom Gormican & Kevin Etten
CAST: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Lily Sheen, with Neil Patrick Harris and Tiffany Haddish
Lionsgate will release The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent in theaters on April 22, 2022. Grade: 4.5/5
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