By JAVIER DOSAMANTES
In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself that is on the edge of financial and professional demise.
After ruining a meeting with a director for a potential role and his daughter’s 16th birthday party on the same day, Cage has seemingly hit rock bottom.
Then our protagonist has no choice but to reluctantly accept a $1 million offer from mysterious superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) to attend his birthday party in Mallorca, Spain.
When I first heard the movie’s premise, I thought it would be a weird, over-the-top meta comedy.
Instead, this project took self-referential humor and mixed it with Cage’s greatest hits to create an incredibly fun and funny action comedy.
The Oscar-winning actor has been memefied and mocked for his acting style, eccentricities and the movie choices he’s made in the latter part of his career.
So, naturally, when he was approached initially about the project, he repeatedly declined it.
Tom Gormican, the writer/director of the movie, then wrote him a letter explaining what the vision for the movie was. And the director’s passion ultimately persuaded the enigmatic actor to play himself.
Gormican, a huge Cage fan, rewarded the actor’s trust. Many pieces suggest this movie was a love letter to Cage’s career … and it was. But it was also a chance for the actor to tell his side of the story.
Kevin Etten and Gormican wrote a magnificent script. It pokes fun at the actor’s personality and career, yet it feels extremely personal and sincere.
As far as directing goes, this movie doesn’t have a lot of fancy camera work or avant-garde techniques. And that’s okay, because the genre doesn’t call for it.
However, we still get all the directing staples that make a good action movie: Great scenic and action shots in beautiful locations, exotic cars, shooting scenes, comedic moments in action sequences and heavy-handed suspenseful moments.
A great script can only take you so far. You need great actors to bring it to life, and the Cage-Pascal tandem was hilariously amazing.
Both actors have possibly the best onscreen bromance since Seth Rogen and James Franco in “Pineapple Express.”
Every scene they’re in together is laugh-out-loud funny. And the two are such good dramatic actors that they’re able to bring nuance into their performances so the audience can emotionally invest in the unlikely friendship.
Pascal is best known for his serious roles in “The Mandalorian,” “Narcos” and “Game of Thrones.” But in this movie he plays against type as an endearingly goofy character that’s Cage’s artistic soulmate — and it works perfectly.
Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris and Paco León headline a supporting cast that does a great job at doing just enough.
Any other big personality or someone trying to steal a scene would’ve messed with the dynamic of what’s supposed to be a two-person show.
And the star of this two-person show is Cage.
Cage hasn’t been part of a big live-action movie probably since 2011. The actor has since become an icon in the cult and indie movie scene after decades of being one of the most infamous people in show business.
It was great seeing him take on a movie star role again, and he’s still got it after all this time. He was funny, intense, layered and magnetic — everything you expect from a vintage Cage performance.
Surprisingly, though, he was also very introspectively nuanced. Not since his performance in “Adaptation” has he shown this side of himself. And this movie intentionally makes several callbacks to that performance.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is full of Easter eggs and references Cage’s most iconic roles. At times, he performs karaoke to his past characters and this works beautifully because he also plays his past self (literally).
Of course, movie reviews have to be used by writers and pundits to show-off how artistic they are. And lambasting a Nic Cage movie for being absurdly exaggerated is a layup.
Reception for this movie has been split, and most of the negative chatter around is using some form of: “this is an egocentric Cage-fest” as a mantra.
To them I say, “Duh. It’s a fictionalized action comedy about Nicolas Cage … starring Nicolas Cage(!).”
Also, they’re wrong. While this is a Cage tribute, this movie also gave him a chance to explain some of his career choices in a comedic vehicle.
It’s an artistic choice that makes the audience connect with him more. As opposed to a one-hour sob fest interview with the personality of your choosing.
This movie also provided his fans and everyone who loves movies a chance to celebrate one of the most iconic acting careers.
Cage is eccentric and has made some terrible movies. But he also has an Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role and has starred in some of the best movies of all time.
His IMDB from 1986 to around 2005 is full of some of the most memorable movies and when telling the history of Hollywood and film — these cannot be omitted — nor can he.
To balance out the “bad reception crowd,” the “good reception crowd” has joined director Gormican in celebrating the actor’s legacy. So, if it wasn’t obvious enough, I would like to join them.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” was a wildly fun movie experience and spawned many pieces and interviews with and about Cage.