It feels like it was only a matter of time until Nic Cage took on the ultimate role of his career: Nick Cage. Yes, in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Cage plays himself (almost) and delivers another stellar performance. Also, that K is important as it’s what distinguishes Cage’s fictional persona from the actor playing him. The past few years have seen the actor deliver some of the best work of his life in films like Mandy, Into the Spider-Verse, and Pig. He’s also given us some stellar, out-there Cage, like Jiu Jitsu, Color Out of Space, and many more. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent sits somewhere between those spaces of Cage. It also acts as a celebration of the actor in all his forms and a delightfully sweet film about friendship.
We meet Cage driving through Los Angeles. He’s on his way to meet a director—David Gordon Green—for a role of a lifetime. This one could put him back on the scene. Though, as he always reminds us, he never actually went anywhere. One impromptu Chateau Marmont reading later, Cage is once again in his car where Nicky joins him. One of the film’s smartest and silliest additions, the young version of Cage often haunts him, wanting him to become the superstar he once was instead of the working actor he’s become. The first act features thoughtful introspection about Cage’s place in Hollywood and the criticism he gets for taking on the many, many roles he does each year. It’s a meta text that feels authentic and real, true to Cage and his journey, and fun for his fans to see him grapple with.
If you were hoping for more of that deeper examination of Cage, though, you may be disappointed. Soon he travels to a fan’s birthday for which he’ll receive a million dollar fee. Cage needs the money—and to fix his relationship with his wife Olivia (a hilarious Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addie (Lily Sheen in great teen form). So off he pops. We meet his host, Pedro Pascal’s delightful aspiring filmmaker Javi. The chemistry and love between the pair is what makes this movie shine.
From here on out, director Tom Gormican gives us a fun meta commentary on the nature of making a movie like this. Can you truly make an adult drama about two men and their relationship? Or will Hollywood force you to turn it into an action blockbuster? If we follow the tongue-in-cheek logic of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent the answer is the latter. Still, Pascal and Cage make it an incredibly fun ride.
Javi is Cage’s biggest fan and wants nothing more than for his hero to star in a film he wrote. He’s a bundle of frenetic energy and nervous laughter. After Cage reveals a shocking truth to Javi, the pair begin to connect over their struggles and love of cinema. If The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is hiding a secret, it’s that this isn’t just a movie about Cage and his career—although it is most assuredly that—it’s that this is a movie about loving movies. Javi and Cage bond over the impossible question of their favorite film. In a moment sure to go down in internet history, Javi introduces Nick to the joys of Paddington 2. The love for film and film fans here will likely speak to every member of the audience, and that feels special.
Alas, things aren’t all love hearts and Paddington movies; the US Government thinks Javi runs an arms cartel and they need Nick to help them take him down. It’s here that the movie begins to veer a little bit more towards a traditional action comedy. But with Pascal and Cage at its heart, their love for each other make sure we always feel engaged and entertained. And, of course, there’s a constant stream of references to every Cage role from Con Air to Guarding Tess. I was only sad there was no love for Valley Girl, but I’ll keep that one in my pocket until we get a sequel. So if you love Cage, love comedy, love Paddington 2, and love cinema, this movie will make you very happy.
Featured Image: Lionsgate