The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – In this action-packed comedy, Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage, channeling his iconic characters as he’s caught between a superfan (Pedro Pascal) and a CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish).

My Take – More than decade ago, like most, I too used to be a fan of Nicolas Cage.

An actor, who despite being a troubled and highly scrutinized public personality, could easily switch between starring in blockbusters, receiving great acclaim in serious dramas and appearing in indie titles, always bringing along his sheer energy and force of charisma to elevate even the weirdest material.

That is until, he decide to tarnish all his goodwill (for whatever reason) by making a switch to appear only in cheap VOD films of dubious quality for the whole of last decade. Films which emphasized hard on his famous Cage-ian performance tropes, all the while making a meme out of himself.

This is why the idea behind this film, directed and co-written by Tom Gormican (That Awkward Moment) and Kevin Etten, is such a great idea. A film where Nicolas Cage gets to play a fictional version of himself and is all about the legend of Nick Cage. Resulting in something that is a blast of entertainment right from start and is filled with great references, wackiness, and brilliant surprises.

Sure, with the subject being very meta, it is mostly bizarre, absurd, silly and probably the craziest Nicolas Cage starrer yet, but still it works wonders and manages to be a terrific vehicle for the actor himself. Very few get to star in the tribute to their own legacy, and that’s what happens here. Making this one a perfect treat for his current and former fans.

The story follows Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage), a once prominent Hollywood movie star who is now more than struggling with almost everything. He is not only hostage to his hectoring inner voice called Nicky Cage (a digitally de-aged Wild at Heart-era Nicolas Cage) who constantly reminds him of his former status and torments him to act accordingly, but is also marred by his troubled relationship with his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and their 16-year-old daughter Addy (Lily Sheen), who Nick struggles to connect with because she doesn’t share his love of films.

Now, having been kicked out of his rental after falling behind $600,000 in rent, Nick agrees to take a humiliating job pitched by his agent, Richard Fink (Neil Patrick Harris). For one million dollars, he has to fly to Mallorca/Majorca and hang out at the birthday party of billionaire super fan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). But what he didn’t expect was to find a soulmate in Javi, who shares his love of the German expressionist silent horror film The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) and introduces him to the joys of Paddington 2 (2017).

However, their burgeoning bromance is interrupted when Nick is approached by CIA Agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz), who inform him that Javi is not only a heavily secured international arms dealer, but has also kidnapped the teenage daughter of the Catalonia President election candidate. Making Nick the only one who can possibly get her out alive.

Here, director Tom Gormican, whose previous film was the unfairly poorly received bro-comedy That Awkward Moment, favors a combination of broad physical humor and zaniness that especially includes nods to Nicolas Cage‘s filmography. The film won’t disappoint Cage aficionados.

It opens with a clip from Con Air (1997), contains tongue-in-cheek nods to The Croods 2 (2020), Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (2001) and Guarding Tess (1994), and features a scene which is packed with Cage inspired props, which range from the chainsaw of Mandy (2018) to the twin gold guns from Face/Off (1997). The film is littered with Easter eggs, and Cage expertly plays Nick and Nicky as a loving tribute to the characters we’ve seen in so many iconic films over the years.

However, the most surprising appeal of the film comes from the bromance between Nick and Javi. While the satire was aimed as the catch of the film, it’s as an endearing goofy buddy comedy where the film shines the most. While it would have been easy for the film to go full Misery (1990) about an obsessed, toxic fan, Javi is anything but. The best parts of the film are when the script lets the two just hang out and talk about life like they were in a Richard Linklater film. The two form a genuine connection over their love of films.

Sure, the action sequences, especially in the third act, seemed a little drawn out, and some characters could have used a bit more screen time, but keeping in line with the occasional tongue-in-cheek comments both Nick and Javi make on the state of films today, it is quite clear that both Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten are perfectly aware of and comfortable with satirizing this conventionality.

As one would expect, Nicolas Cage is fantastic and delivers his most craziest, most entertaining performance in years. While his recent performance in Pig (2021) has been appropriately praised for being probably a career best, here, Cage‘s campy turn surely gives a tiff competition. It also helps that he shares excellent chemistry with Pedro Pascal, who absolutely steals the show. With his evident charisma and charm, Pascal has been quickly climbing the ladder with some prolific roles, this film is just an added testament to why he is a super star in the making.

Though known comedians Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris and Ike Barinholtz have some commendable scenes, sadly, the three don’t get much screen time. Sharon Horgan and Lily Mo Sheen round out Cage‘s family, and the dynamic feels pure, while Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio and Paco León are alright. On the whole, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is a genuinely engaging, funny and riveting film elevated by its Meta aspects and heart.

Directed – 

Starring – Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Neil Patrick Harris

Rated – R

Run Time – 107 minutes

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