Review by Austin Frape
The Preamble: There’s no denying that, when it comes to bizarrely endearing celebrities, Nicolas Cage ranks at the top of the list. He’s an Academy Award-winner with over 100 movies to his credit. From cinematic landmarks like Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation to funny-bad cult classics like Vampire’s Kiss and The Wicker Man. Due to his infamous financial troubles, he’s seemed at times willing to take on almost any role, including a number of low-budget turkeys. Cage’s recent moves has faired much better, however, with recent movies like Pig (2021) and Mandy (2018) bringing out fantastic performances. Now we have Nicolas Cage taking on his most daring role as … Nicolas Cage, in the appropriately titled The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
The Plot: Unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, world-famous thespian Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Kim Coppola) accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday party of a wealthy businessman, Javi (Pedro Pascal). Cage and Javi quickly form a bond over movies and, well, Cage. Things take a wildly unexpected turn when a CIA operative (Tiffany Haddish) recruits Cage for an unusual mission involving a cartel and a kidnapping. Taking on the role of a lifetime, he soon finds himself channeling his most iconic and beloved characters to save himself and his loved ones.
The Review: The idea of Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage sounds like a recipe for a joke that would wear thin very quickly. Fortunately, in this case, there is a terrific blend of both humour and intrigue. The movie plays as the ultimate celebration of the wild career and persona of Nicolas Cage without just catering to cheap meme jokes. (Though they’re in there!) In both the context of the movie and in real life, you get the sense that Cage is looking to pivot towards more serious roles, and that perhaps Unbearable Weight is a new direction. And to his credit, Cage certainly knows how to play Cage, even as a hilarious younger imaginary persona that haunts him. If you’re a fan of meta-commentary of the Hollywood system, Unbearable Weight is certainly worth a look.
But at the heart of the movie is a genuinely fun duo between Cage and Pascal. The dynamic between celebrity and superfan that blossoms into a bromance is hysterical as we watch them bond over the history of cinema. And Paddington 2. But the cartel/espionage plot felt a bit cliché and out of place, especially as the movie kind of becomes what it’s making fun of. But then again, the lines between fiction and fact blend quite often, so maybe that was the point all along!
The Verdict: Overall, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a quintessential tribute to Nicolas Cage. Bringing together a fun comedy duo and terrific meta humour, and a serviceable, but cliché plot, this is a must-watch for fans of the internet’s favourite thespian.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in cinemas on April 21.