In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicholas Cage plays an exaggerated, fictional version of himself. The tagline here is inherently funny, but it also becomes its most overused, thereby weakest trope by the time the credits roll. I don’t know what I was expecting going into the film, and for the most part I enjoyed it, but I also left wanting it to be a little bit crazier, commit a little harder to its usp.
The film sees Nick Cage down on his luck as a has-been Hollywood legend, and battling relationship issues with his wife and daughter, accept a $1 million offer to attend a super-fan’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday invite. From there, a myriad of adventures take Cage from getting high on drugs to spy shenanigans, all set within the beautiful backdrop of Mallorca, Spain and a plentiful of callbacks to Cage’s past filmography.
The early parts of the film reminded me of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, with Cage driving around LA, meeting or in call with directors for his resurgence. Actually, a lot of the film reminded me of Tarantino’s latest. Similar to Jake Cahill in Once Upon a Time, Cage is obsessed with how people view him, distancing him from his already distanced family. Of course, it isn’t the real Nic Cage, so there are some deviations about details from his personal life, like the existence of his on-screen daughter Addy (played well by Lily Sheen). Besides that, and the meta jokes about Cage’s career, this is where the similarities with the real world end. Once Cage arrives in Mallorca it starts to dive into its own story, which is where the story starts to fall apart.
Pedro Pascal has a lot of fun playing Javi, and it shows. He’s an odd character, but he has his own motivations for bringing Cage along for the ride. His obsession with his hero’s films is fun to watch, but not fun enough after the halfway point. Until then though, watching Cage and Pascal get high on drugs and tour around the beautiful town is a feast for the eyes. Supporting actors Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz play to their strengths, while at the same time taking away from the central duo.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is meta, goofy, stupid but also pretty fun...until it isn't. But until the novelty wears off, it very much is a love letter to Nick Cage megafans.— Rahul Majumdar (@darthrahul) April 22, 2022
Full review soon. pic.twitter.com/qEF2K5oIhE
Most of my problems with the film comes from its second half, where a tonal shift from the buddy-adventure to full-on action doesn’t quite work as flawlessly as one might hope. Featuring car chases and gun shootouts, still including some of the charm of the film’s opening parts, they seem out of place in this bizzarre adventure. I would’ve been more contempt with it had they played up the ridiculousness of the story at that point, but its only saving grace, that too only to some extent, is Cage outlandishly playing mocked up personas of his prior work to distract from the generic tropes.
That’s something that can be said for most of the movie anyway, where hamming it up even more could potentially make for a much more interesting film to watch. Pedro Pascal’s chemistry with Cage is palpable, and the duo makes me believe there’s a version of this movie where that is played to its strengths even more. Of course, the movie really is about Cage overcoming his demons and standing up for and with his family in times of need, but then the entire “oh look here’s a meta joke” premise falls flat when you become aware of the fact that this is just another action movie, but one that’s mostly fun.
The film is shot and sounds just as well as one could hope. While there isn’t anything too inventive here, what is there works for the story. And while that’s fine, one expects a little more crazy in their supposedly crazy Nic-Cage-being-meta comedy. For what it’s worth, the film will satisfy most fans who seek it, and should be a fun time for casual viewers as well.
The unbearably meta comedy is a fun love letter to fan-favourite Nic Cage moments from his past films, but not much more than that.
Lionsgate India brings The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent to theatres near you on April 22, 2022.