"Live the life of a house cat. Because it's just a matter of time before the great power plant upstairs turns off the juice and we retreat to the black pit of nothingness from whence we came." - Nick Cage
Silliness is underrated. When done well (and let there be no doubt - being silly without appearing idiotic can be tricky), a silly film can connect emotionally and leave the viewer feeling uplifted by the time the credits roll. That is one of the beauties of cinema.
When it comes to good silly fun, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is as good as it gets. This comedy/action hybrid film from the director (and co-writer) Tom Gormican cleverly captures the humor and insane meme machine intensity of Nicolas Cage as an actor. It also pokes gentle fun at Nicolas Cage, the person, the icon, and "movie star," without being mean-spirited. It's a terrific surprise of a film and an inside-out skewering of Hollywood's fame machine.
Nicolas Cage's career (the real Nicolas Cage) has famously had massive ups and downs. He won the Best Actor Academy Award for Leaving Las Vegas, yet he has also been married five times. His financial troubles are legendary. To keep up with the bills, he's become one of the most prolific actors in the business. He's been in everything: Valley Girl, Peggy Sue Got Married, Con Air, National Treasure, Wild at Heart, Ghost Rider, the underrated Vampire's Kiss, and the recent critical darling Pig.
All of this is to reference Cage as an iconic actor and legendary movie star. Fortunately, the incredibly meta world of Unbearable Weight makes a note of all of this: in the movie, here is a "fictionalized version" of Nicolas Cage, himself playing an over-the-top version of Nick Cage (if that is even possible). The film version of Nick Cage frequently screams "Nick Cage" at the top of his lungs, and he's constantly arguing with another version of himself ("Nicky"), who is played by (you guessed it), Nick Cage. Fortunately, Nick and Nicky make up in a scene that I refuse to spoil. Trust me; it's fantastic.
In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, as the "fictional" Nick Cage's career stalls and his family relationships unravel, he takes a 1 million dollar gig to attend a birthday party for a billionaire in Spain. Things quickly go off the rails as the CIA enlists him to take down the billionaire (since he's a secret drug kingpin, of course). Cage befriends the drug lord; they drop acid, discuss their favorite movies and jump off cliffs together. All of which sounds ludicrous, and yes, it is bananas - and perfect for only one actor in the world: Nick Cage.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a movie about Nick Cage playing himself (in a film about Nick Cage), and this "wacky inside joke" type of script is one that, in lesser hands, could wear thin quickly. However, Tom Gormican slyly lets the insanity be a central part of the film, and Cage embraces every wink and nod. Nick knows what everyone thinks of him, and he will own it, amplify it and turn it into a masterwork.
Not since Being John Malkovich has a film so deftly poked fun at its lead actor in such a way as to elevate them at the same time. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is not just great fun; it's also a hilarious and thoroughly entertaining addition to the Nic Cage legacy. Sure it's silly, but why not just jump off the cliff with a movie star once in a while? After all, it is Nick Cage. Or, in the words of Nick Cage: "Nicolas! F***ing! Cage!" (B+)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
Directed by Tom Gormican
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Tiffany Haddish, David Gordon Green, Lily Sheen, and Demi Moore
Genres: Comedy, Action
Photo Credit: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate.