No matter the production, whether it’s a small indie horror movie or a summer blockbuster, actor Nicolas Cage always turns in a memorable performance. He’s a Hollywood performer and icon like no other, which means only Cage could take on a role like the lead in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. The meta-action comedy sees Cage playing a fictionalized version of himself that ultimately plays like a heartfelt tribute to the cinematic great’s career, even some of the horror highs and lows.
Cage plays Nick Cage, a cash-strapped actor struggling to make a comeback. A younger, Wild at Heart-like alter-ego “Nicky” gives him a tough love pep talk as the actor pleads his case to director David Gordon Green (Halloween 2018) for a coveted role. Green passes. But Nick’s professional slump doesn’t hold a candle to his home life; his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and teen daughter Addy (Lily Sheen) treat him with frequent disdain over his career obsessed self-centeredness. Nick decides it may be time to throw in the towel, but not before he’s pushed into accepting a gig that sees him traveling to Mallorca for the birthday party of olive magnate Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal).
Javi and Nick form a strong bond, but a kidnapping interrupts their bromance as the actor gets sucked into spy work for the CIA.
Director and co-writer Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten use the setup to give Cage ample room to cut loose. Whether that’s drunkenly crooning at a teen birthday, getting paranoid mid-trip on LSD, or smooching his inner alter ego, the film feels designed to showcase Cage’s range as a performer. It’s made all the more infectiously charming by Pascal’s presence. Their chemistry and kindred spirits, and Javi’s earnest adoration for the actor, makes for one of the most endearing cinematic bromances in recent memory.
While this action comedy spectacle couldn’t be further removed from the genre, it does pay tribute to many of Cage’s most memorable roles, from the greatest hits to even the misfires. This means horror gets some surprising love, too. Javi gives special attention to Mandy visually and by declaring the 2018 cult fave a masterpiece. Look for Cage to even poke fun of his infamous turn in The Wicker Man remake, a bit that lands with great success and amusement.
This is solely a showcase for Cage, who surprises by exposing just as much vulnerability as he does a willingness to join in the exuberant humor, which means the driving plot is relatively generic. It’s hardly noticeable when it’s focused on Cage and Pascal, primarily when together, but the third act loses some of that magic as it’s forced to bring everything to a gunfire-heavy head.
Even still, it’s a raucous journey that’ll leave you with a grin plastered on your face the entire time. Cage playing a version of himself makes for a unique meta-comedy featuring no shortage of poignant moments and riotous gags that’ll deepen your appreciation for his work. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was penned for Cage, but it’s also the type of narrative that couldn’t work- or be even remotely successful- with anyone else. The frenetic energy, the sweet bromance, and Cage’s willingness to take the piss out of himself cast the actor in a whole new light. Considering his remarkable career thus far, that’s a joyous and impressive feat.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent releases in theaters on April 22, 2022.
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