If I had a nickel for every film where Nicolas Cage talks to a lookalike of himself, I’d have two nickels. Which isn’t a lot, but it’s weird that it’s happened twice, right?
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” stars Nic Cage as a fictionalized version of himself as he faces a recent struggle in his acting career. When he is offered $1 million by billionaire superfan (Pedro Pascal) to make an appearance at a birthday party, two CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) recruit Cage to spy on him. Tom Gormican directs and co-writes.
I love when actors play versions of themselves like in “Entourage,” and I’d consider myself a Nicolas Cage fan (“The Rock” is one of the best action films of all-time and things like “National Treasure” are fun). “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” isn’t always as much fun as it should be, but thanks to a pair of charming lead performances and some poignant moments, it’s a trip worth taking.
Nicolas Cage gets somewhat of a bad rap as an actor, mostly because he spent most of the 2010s doing straight to DVD titles (a fact he pokes fun at in the film). However people seem quick to forget he won an Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas,” and he has several effective dramatic scenes in “Massive Talent” surrounding his floundering career and strained relationship with his teenage daughter (Lily Sheen). He gets a couple classic “Cage freakout” moments too, because it wouldn’t be a meta Nic Cage movie without em.
Pedro Pascal has been on the rise for a while, and here continues to be cheery. He shares a light chemistry with Cage, and fans of his will get a kick from him here.
Just like how you’ll appreciate the “Scream” films the more you know about the horror films, exactly how much mileage you get out of this film will depend on how many of Cage’s films you’ve seen/like. Director Tom Gormican said the three most important are “Adaptation,” “Face/Off,” and “Raising Arizona,” though the films that get shoutouts range from “Mandy” to “Guarding Tess” (as well as the incredible “Paddington 2”).
The film is shot pretty much like every studio comedy of the last 10 years (despite its tourist trap setting), and it doesn’t exactly “feel” like a theatrical released movie (if you know what I mean by that then you know; if you don’t then it won’t bother you while watching anyways). The film is very aware of what it is, and eventually teeters on becoming *too* meta (for reasons I won’t say, but the film tries to justify its own plot or lack thereof). Not all the jokes land, but there were a few that had my audience in stitches.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” isn’t as much fun as it should be which is a bit disappointing (I think it could’ve leaned into the crazy Nic Cage antics even more). That being said, it’s a light and innocent film that appreciates one of Hollywood’s bigger names of the last 30 years, and doesn’t try to be anything more.
Critics Rating: 6/10