It’s hard to remember where I was when I heard there would be a movie where Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage is playing a fictionalized version of himself. That’s all the information I needed to have whoever has involved take my money and let me be entertained. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was one of the few comedies this year I was very much looking forward to the most. Cage has been one of the most famous actors working today, no thanks to the manic energy we usually see in most of his movies. Even I don’t know if I have a favorite of his: Face/Off, Raising Arizona, Adaptation? His career, however, hasn’t been the same in the 2010s since we have seen him more in straight-to-VOD movies nobody has heard of besides watching out-of-context clips. But if there’s one film worth watching of his that isn’t animated, his performance in last year’s Pig was phenomenal where he was so snubbed for a Best Actor nomination.
We’ve seen movies where celebrities have played versions of themselves in comedic effect, such as the entire cast of This is the End to John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, to name a couple. But something like Tom Gormican’s second feature behind the camera could’ve easily failed to be good as it sounds, especially when an actor of his kind has given us so much joy that watching compilation videos on YouTube of his acting will brighten anyone’s day. But here’s the good news you’ll hear from me: I left the theater smiling, knowing a really good original comedy has blessed us.
In the film, Nicolas Cage is hitting the point of his career where he’s struggling to find work he’s very interested in. Further pushing him down is him trying to rekindle his relationship with his teenage daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen) and his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) without keeping busy with his work. His latest attempt to get a great role didn’t happen and this makes him want to quit acting altogether, getting his life together in the meantime. But in need to clear his massive debut of $600,000 from staying at the Sunset Towers, Nick is desperate enough to accept an offer of $1 million to appear at a birthday party in Mallorca, Spain for billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), who a massive superfan of the actor’s work. He’s there at first to get it over with and collect the money, but he soon realizes Javi appreciates the man’s work and is having the best time. All’s good until two CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) enlist Nick to spy on his graceful host, who believes the head of an international drug cartel and responsible for the kidnapping of a presidential candidate.
If you know what you’re getting into with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, it will be the perfect buddy comedy you can ever dream of. Because even though it sounds ridiculous once you read the premise, that’s precisely the line it’s riding on. Anybody who’s been a fan of the actor or not too crazy about him will have a blast. What came across as shocking was Cage himself was relucted about taking on the role since it’s so different from how he is in a real-life unit Gormican changed his mind after four times. However, when it throws in the references to his filmography that have us understand them immediately, it has more to offer than the craziness. Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten were able to have a character like Javi to tell Cage he’s an important enough actor to keep on working and needs someone like him to bring joy into a dark world we level in.
In talking about the man himself, this is how you have a commuted performance that doesn’t need to be taken seriously. Cage in here made me forget how funny he can be when not being unintentional, and it’s just nice to see him have fun while filming this while giving himself some needed depth to make him a little likable without becoming the casual punchline. To see him in a more comedic role was definitely the best from him since Kick-Ass. Pedro Pascal is too funny, just like how he was the best part about the disappointing The Bubble early this month. Though we don’t know if Javi is a dangerous man or not, you honestly don’t want to think anything wrong about him when he seems like a nice person to have meaningful conversations with. The two of them carry that terrific chemistry to hold the film together in a way that doesn’t want any scene with the two of them to end. Something tells me I would love to see these two in a straight-up action movie together.
Massive Weight makes you laugh consistently, as did the small audience I saw it with in the afternoon. From a screenplay perspective, it’s very aware this is made for fans first and foremost. However, just watching Nick and Javi having a great time reminds us that movies will bring a warm feeling of togetherness. Maybe it’s crying over a specific popular film over the past few years that’s my favorite gag or them taking an acid trip. I thought their friendship could be similar to James Franco’s character and Jim Jon Un in The Interview, except it won’t be controversial. It gets even better when he occasionally has conversations with a de-aged younger self that looks like he’s out of Red Rock West or his most Cageiness in a 1990 interview on Wagan. Their conversations get so weird that he actually kisses himself longingly.
Once it was leaning towards the action in the latter half, I’d say it wasn’t as great as the first two acts when you start to notice the meta-cliche angle of the writing. The CIA stuff with Haddish and Barinholtz was perfectly fine, but it was disappointing this didn’t utilize them more outside of a few funny lines of dialogue. They could’ve beefed up the subplot a bit more that won’t feel like an afterthought when it ends since it eventually gives an outline of how the rest of the movie will go. Still, did I have a good time in the theater with this? Yes, and it’s one I can see myself re-watching again.
Overall, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the cure for sadness if you’re desperate for fun. Nicolas Cage as himself shines in a hilarious tribute to his career and the love we share for cinema. The bromance between him and Pedro Pascal made this buddy comedy enjoyable.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is now playing in theaters. Runtime: 106 Minutes. Rated R for language throughout, some sexual references, drug use and violence. Studio: Lionsgate