The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent introduces Nicolas Cage as Nicolas Cage at his most self-aware. So meta, that Cage himself argues with an imaginary friend throughout the film that happens to be his persona of Sailor from the 1990 David Lynch film Wild At Heart.
The juxtaposition of normal Cage and Wild At Heart’s Cage fully encompasses the extremities of Cage’s performative range from grounded to absurdly over-the-top. And it fully explains why this film was destined to be made.
Love him or hate him, no one in Hollywood makes a movie like Nicolas Cage. Director Tom Gormican realizes this and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is his love letter to the wild and crazy movie star.
Here are our full thoughts on The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review
As the film begins, we are introduced to the movie version of Nicolas Cage who is desperate to find work. His desperation is so much that he has to chase down producers and directors as they are leaving to find their ride, which leads to a humorous moment of Cage auditioning in a Boston accent for a cop flick.
The film also gives Cage a fictional wife and daughter who both find him insufferable in various ways. His wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) is separated from him and Cage attends therapy to connect with his daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen). But despite her annoyance with her celebrity father, it is clear Addy is wanting to find a path where her father takes an interest in her life.
But after getting news that he lost the role, his agent Richard Fink (Neil Patrick Harris) urges him to take a gig that has a million-dollar pay. Mostly because he has incurred debt due to his artistic slump. The gig involves attending a billionaire’s birthday and that billionaire is Javi Gutierrez (Played by The Mandalorian himself, Pedro Pascal).
Once he arrives at Javi’s mansion, the film’s real spark begins to reveal itself. Javi’s investment is not simply to have Cage attend a party but to possibly persuade the eccentric movie star into starring in a movie he wrote.
It’s in these moments where the movie is utterly hilarious and somehow sweet. Javi is a complete fanboy of Nicolas Cage and Cage begins to become disarmed by Javi’s love for him and his work. And this leads to hysterical and charming scenes of the men sharing their favorite movies together, including Paddington 2. And a sequence involving LSD that will make audiences laugh until their stomachs hurt.
But Cage finds himself in uncharted territory when he is recruited by CIA agents to help with an investigation. And the person in question is his new best friend Javi.
For the hardcore Nicolas Cage enthusiast, there is plenty of extreme Cage here to feast upon. All the ticks, mannerisms, and neurotic tendencies are there. In fact, when we first saw the film at SXSW 2022, director Tom Gormican stated he had debates with Cage about how he should approach his role as himself, stating “Neurotic Nicolas Cage is the best Nicolas Cage.”
The references to his career are also present (as they should be). This includes nods to Face/Off, The Rock, and yes, even the cult favorite Mandy. But they never feel overbearing and actually add to the narrative being told.
Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal are the heart and soul of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. The two of them have a chemistry together that can easily be compared to Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. If the entire film was only about them getting into shenanigans for two hours, this reviewer would not complain at all.
This leads us to the issues with the film which mostly stem from the CIA subplot. Tiffany Haddish plays one of the agents in the film, and despite a few good lines in the movie, she feels mostly wasted here. Adding to this, the film’s climax suffers slightly by becoming a generic action movie as it resolves whether or not Javi himself is a good person or a villainous monster. Luckily, we are so invested in the characters by this point that we remain invested in the outcome.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: Should you see it in theaters?
The Unbearable Weight of Massive talent is not going to win over the Cage detractors nor is it trying to. But this writer is willing to bet that even some of Cage’s harshest critics will find this meta-comedy endearing.
As for the Nicolas Cage fans, well, they will be more than satisfied by the “massive talent” on display. And for everyone else, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent will be an irresistible bromance comedy that just happens to have Nicolas Cage as the main character.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in theaters tomorrow.