Nicolas Cage is about as unique an actor as there is. No matter what he’s in, and he’s in kind of everything, Cage gives it his all, turning in work you wouldn’t get from anyone else. That kind of commitment, combined with his singular persona, has made him a figure that almost everyone has an opinion on. Whether it’s derision or worship, no one is indifferent to him. So, in crafting a film about him, for him, and in direct conversation with his fans, it’s presenting something rather bold. Luckily, not is Cage in on the joke here, he’s game to up the ante. The result is The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a movie that goes gonzo and meta in equal measure. It may sound like something that shouldn’t work, but it really does, to the point that nothing else in 2022 to date is nearly as good.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is going to utterly delight Cage fans. The amount of his work referenced here, either covertly or overtly, is wonderful. It’s not just Face/Off, either. There’s a Captain Corelli’s Mandolin pull as well. When there’s that much to go nuts over here, the perfect usage of Paddington 2 is just a beautiful bonus. For what this flick is trying to achieve, it succeeds in a massive manner. I was blown away.
Actor Nick Cage (Cage as a slightly fictionalized version of himself) is strapped for cash and at a career crossroads. His teen daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen) thinks he’s full of himself and his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) needs him to step up. When he misses out on the role of a lifetime, Nick is ready to quit acting, even telling so to his distracted agent Richard (Neil Patrick Harris). Instead, he ends up taking an offer that he initially turned down…attending the birthday party of wealthy super-fan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), who’s also written a script he hopes Nick will star in. He’s indifferent and moody, but before long, Javi begins to break down his walls.
Javi and Nick become fast friends, but shortly after, Nick is abducted by the CIA. There, Vivan (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) recruit him to be an informant. You see, they claim that Javi is a ruthless drug kingpin, one potentially with blood on his hands. Taking on the spy work and finding it to be similar to acting, Nick investigates Javi, while still bonding with him. As they begin a cat and mouse game, revelations are made, but so too is a bromance for the ages. You’ll laugh alongside Cage, and it’s important to know, you’re laughing with him, not at him.
Watching Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal have a bromance will warm your heart. As much as Cage is the showcase here, Pascal is truly a scene-stealer. The two go toe to toe in some incredibly hilarious sequences, almost daring the other to raise their game. Watching them duke it out is a riot. Cage of course is playing an exaggerated version of himself, to great effect, while Pascal finds the most lovable version of his character possible. The result is great. The likes of Ike Barinholtz and Tiffany Haddish have funny lines as the CIA agents, but it doesn’t compare. The same goes for Neil Patrick Harris, Sharon Horgan, and Lily Mo Sheen. It’s all about Cage and Pascal. The supporting players include Paco León, Alessandra Mastronardi and Jacob Scipio, as well as cameos from David Gordon Green and Demi Moore, among others
Filmmaker Tom Gormican, along with his co-writer Kevin Etten are clearly having a blast with this whole premise. The secret sauce here, in addition to Cage playing along, is making the bromance, comedy, and even the spy action work on their own. Gormican doesn’t have a complex visual style, but in executing the script to its full potential, he succeeds with flying colors. Nicolas Cage fans and newbies each can get a kick out of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, albeit a different kick. That’s truly where Etten and Gormican soar. Nic Cage is for everyone, obsessives and virgins alive, and the storytellers understand that.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is my favorite film of the year so far, and with good reason. As creative and smart as it is funny, this is an absolute riot of a crowdpleaser. It’s rare that inside baseball type fare can appeal to those not in the know, but this one truly does. Not only is it one of the best vehicles ever for Nicolas Cage, it’s a beautiful tribute to his unique talents as well. Coming on the heels of Pig, we’re truly in a new Golden Era for Cage. All hail this singular actor, as well as this incredibly good film.