“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”: Nic Cage in his bigget role yet


Courtesy of Lionsgate

Nicolas Cage stars as himself in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent”

Grant Soedler, Herald Reporter

There are few names in Hollywood as infamous as Nicolas Cage. While most actors gain notoriety through beloved performances or being part of highly successful movies, Nic Cage has gained a cult following for mostly one reason: his performances are almost always incredibly weird.

From films like the 1989 black comedy “Vampire’s Kiss,” where he portrays a man who slowly comes to believe he is a vampire, 1997’s “Face/Off,” where he and John Travolta spend the majority of the movie pretending to be each other’s characters and the 2021 film “Willy’s Wonderworld,” where he plays a mute janitor who battles several murderous animatronics as he attempts to clean their old restaurant, Cage can make even the most absurd role entertaining, even if not always for the right reasons. But despite his massive filmography, in 2022’s “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” Nic Cage tackles arguably his biggest role yet: himself.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” was directed by Tom Gormican and co-written by Gormican and Kevin Etten. The film stars Nic Cage as a fictionalized version of himself, known as Nick Cage. This fictional persona is obsessed with film and the films he’s been in over almost anything else, straining his relationship with his daughter Addy (Lily Sheen) and ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan). After being passed over for several major film roles, in addition to being harassed by a hallucination of his younger and more successful self, known as “Nicky,” Nick decides he is retiring from acting and accepts an offer from his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) to attend a millionaire’s birthday party for $1 million in order to pay off several remaining debts.

When he arrives there however, he discovers that the millionaire, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) is a huge superfan of his and, after some initial hesitance, the two of them begin to bond over their mutual love of film. This new friendship slowly begins to reinvigorate Nick’s love of working in the medium, and Javi eventually convinces him to write a script with him. However, after a night out at a bar Nick is confronted by two CIA operatives (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) who inform him that Javi is a dangerous arms dealer and has kidnapped the daughter of an anti-crime politician in order to force him out of the upcoming election. Low on options, the operatives recruit Nick to spy on Javi in hopes of finding the girl.

The simplest way to describe “Massive Talent” would be to say that it is insane. Understandable for a film starring an actor playing himself, but that’s also doing it a disservice. Far beyond its inherent weirdness, the film is incredibly entertaining. Cage and Pascal have excellent chemistry together, stealing nearly every scene in which they interact. The film takes full advantage of this by utilizing Cage’s infamous absurdity to place the characters in increasingly weirder and weirder scenarios, such as when Nick and Javi get so high on LSD that they become convinced they’re being followed by a random pair of people, or whenever Nick attempts to take part in any espionage the CIA make him do.

The film is also incredibly meta, something immediately obvious from the opening scene where two characters are watching Cage’s 1997 film “Con Air” and calling him a “f*cking legend.” Throughout its run time, it constantly makes references to various pieces of Cage’s filmography such as “National Treasure,” “Croods 2” and “Mandy,” all the while poking fun at their mixed reception. Nick frequently talks about how he’s an “actor,” not a “movie star,” and quite literally argues with himself about how he wants to go more independent and get away from the stigma of Hollywood. This all culminates in one of the most absurd climaxes I’ve seen in some time. It’s certainly not a masterpiece or anything, but beyond some pacing issues, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a blast from start to finish and can currently be seen in theaters.