A movie and TV review of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage.
I can’t say that I’ve always liked Nicolas Cage; for me, his early performances have been a bit over the top. (I still remember, not necessarily with affection, “Peggy Su-u-u-u-e”). However, I do have a fondness for several of his films, including Guarding Tess, The Rock, Con Air, Bad Lieutenant, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. And while he has labored for several years mainly in Video On Demand releases, there are definite signs he is emerging from that B-movie wilderness. 2021’s Pig was excellent, containing a controlled and immensely forceful Cage performance that should have been Oscar-nominated. And now with the “Only in Theatres” tailored for Cage release The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, I’m happy to say it looks like he’s here to stay.
As directed and co-written by Tom Gormican (Kevin Etten is the other writer of credit), The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in part a self-aware meditation on fame and the cult of celebrity, and an entertaining, robust blend of action, comedy and good old-fashioned “bromance.” Nicolas Cage is both himself, in this case, a constantly working actor trying to get the role that will propel him back to the top (or the mainstream) and his alter-ego (representing the younger, wilder Cage. In a crushing disappointment (wait till you see Cage’s audition for a part that’s practically his), he accepts a gig to fly to Mallorca to be himself and “entertain” at a wealthy mega-fan’s party. The possibility that this fan called Javi (extremely well-played by Pedro Pascal, who gives Cage a run at the acting honors) might be a terrorist and a kidnapper brings Cage to the attention of CIA agents (including Tiffany Haddish) who think he might have the spying skills it takes to locate the kidnap victim.
This set-up leads to situations that amusingly play off Cage’s image, while also poignantly commenting on the actor’s fame and celebrity—and the occasional inability to cope, signified by his turning to alcohol ((Leaving Las Vegas, anyone?). Yet the reflective moments are usually followed by a clever situation in which the “real” Cage tries to live up to the ideal of the “film star” Cage (as in his first foray into spying). And then there are the unwanted visits by Cage’s passionate, unhinged alter-ego, who feels that “real” Cage needs to be reminded of the force he really is.There is so much to enjoy about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent that I don’t know where to begin. I guess I can start with all the clever homages to Cage that find their way into the film, including Guarding Tess (the focal point of a pivotal scene), National Treasure, Face-Off, The Wicker Man, Mandy. Some of them are in passing, and some play off Cage’s acting ability and his fame (or notoriety); some encourage expectations in the minds of those who have been influenced by his roles. There is also the buddy comedy aspect between Cage and Pascal’s Javi. Javi is a devoted Cage fan and avid movie aficionado with interesting preferences. (You may never think about certain films in the same way after you watch this movie). Javi’s hero worship of Cage, and Cage’s growing affection of Javi, are responsible for several of the movie’s most affecting, hilarious, unexpected and even suspenseful moments—especially as the film takes its time before putting all its cards on the table. All I will say is that if you’ve been waiting for a film to get you back into the theaters, something with action, laughs, and more than a little bit of heart, then let The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent be the romp that gets you there.