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Meta Comedy Is Cage the Best

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a unique film, combining genres, seamlessly breaking the fourth wall, and bringing together two of the best actors working today. The idea of Nicolas Cage playing a fictional version of himself seems ludicrous, but director Tom Gormican, who co-wrote the script with Kevin Etten, is skilled at crafting a film that offers just about everything without losing sight of its central story. It also helps that Cage and Pedro Pascal have one of the best bromances in this intensely entertaining, funny, and exciting story that is a reminder why audiences love film. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent follows Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage), an actor whose career has seen a dip over the last few years. He’s been trying to land a major studio gig to put him back on the map, but nothing seems to be working. On top of all that, his relationship with his daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen) isn’t the best because all he can talk about is his work and what he likes. To pay off his debt and divorce fees, Nick decides to quit acting and agrees to appear at the birthday party of billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) in Mallorca, Spain for $1 million. While he and Javi get along really well, Nick is tasked by CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) to spy on Javi. Naturally, things take a turn.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is best when it is poking at Cage’s career, as well as in its commentary on the movie industry at large. At one point, Nick Cage and Javi converse about the state of cinema and how difficult it is to capture an audience’s attention — a talky comedy needs a hook, after all. The conclusion they come to is that it’s hard to find an audience, unless it’s Marvel or Star Wars. It’s witty banter, filled with meta moments, and is genuinely funny. Pascal’s line delivery of, He’s dying… creatively, is a singularly hilarious moment that is perfect in every way. The film captures the essence of a buddy comedy, a heist movie, and an action thriller all at once, but The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent never veers off course in tone or in its core themes. At the heart of it all is an actor who loves his job and who is trying to find redemption for himself, as well as a rejuvenation of his career. The film itself wouldn’t work if there wasn’t so much heart and humor, with Nick Cage’s family relationship and friendship with Javi being the driving force of the story. Most importantly, perhaps, is the movie knows how to have a damn good time. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent doesn’t get too caught up in its own meta commentary that it begins to take itself too seriously. It understands exactly what it is trying to be. Gormican and Etten’s script, along with the former’s direction, ensures there is never a dull moment. There are thrills and heartwarming moments, a gentle camaraderie between Javi and Nick, and high stakes that are about as wild and ridiculous as the film’s own concept. And yet, it works, bolstered by an impressive cast and a love of movies (and Nicolas Cage, of course) that isn’t trying too hard to be funny; it simply is. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent could easily have been cruel, mocking Cage, his movies, and anyone who is a fan of the actor. However, the film does the exact opposite without treating him as some infallible person. The film is not just a love letter to Cage and his filmography, but to movies overall, our love for them, and their ability to touch the lives of so many across borders and through various genres. It’s a touching tribute to Cage’s movie career and to fans of film in general. As one might guess, the film is made better by Cage and Pascal’s fantastic performances. Cage has absolutely no problem going all out in his portrayal, even tackling the Wild at Heart character on the side — a way for Cage to talk to, well, Cage. He’s never over the top and understands what the film is meant to be, which makes the highs and lows for his character intense, humorous, and sometimes heartfelt. Pascal offers the perfect balance. His Javi is clearly a fanboy, but he is soft and genuine in his love for Cage. He has a lot of heart and one can’t help but feel bad for him at times. What’s more, Pascal finds the humanity in Javi rather than playing him as an obsessive who can’t differentiate between Cage the actor and the characters he plays. It’s really a testament to Pascal’s performance and chemistry with Cage that the pair’s onscreen relationship works so well. The supporting cast don’t get as much to do, but they’re still good, especially Sharon Horgan as Cage’s ex-wife.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent plays with the idea of who Nicolas Cage is as a person, an actor, and what it means to play oneself. It also touches on Cage’s career and how it is perceived by others and himself, especially as he mentions (quite often) how he’s never stopped working over the years, even if the amount of big roles have stopped coming in. The film is seemingly meant as a comeback. But, like Nick Cage constantly says to his agent, it’s not that he went anywhere. Regardless, it’s good to have the actor, whose diverse filmography is certainly a memorable one, back in an exciting, eccentric big studio film.