April 17, 2022

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is the Ultimate Nicolas Cage Flick (Review)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent kicks off with a couple watching a Nic Cage movie in a posh, decked-out bedroom. This isn’t out of the ordinary in any particular way — Nicolas Cage is a beloved actor, if a confounding one — but when it’s the beginning of a film hinged on the audience’s love of that very same actor, it also serves as the introduction of a meta element that will never stop telling you exactly what kind of movie you’re watching.

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

A Cage-tastic opening can only be followed by…you guessed it…more Nicolas Cage! Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself in Massive Talent, fighting for relevance and ready to quit acting. While I highly doubt that would ever be an option in real life, Massive Talent’s Nic Cage is preparing to take that step when he begrudgingly accepts an offer to attend the birthday part of Javi Gutierrez (The Mandalorian’s Pedro Pascal). As you might expect — especially if you’re seen the trailer — things very quickly get out of hand, and soon Nic finds himself fighting both for his family and himself.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent loves Nicolas Cage, and it knows its audience loves Nicolas Cage. I haven’t seen nearly as many of his movies as I’d care to admit, but I think it’s fair to say that the bigger Cage fan you are, the more fun you’ll have with this movie. That being said, even with my limited scope, I still laughed frequently and had an uproarious good time, purely because everyone involved here completely understands the assignment. They know what they’re poking fun at, and their commitment is what drives the core of the film.

The real meat comes from Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal, and after they finally meet and begin spending time together, Massive Talent really finds its feet. Pascal has brilliant comedic timing, and unsurprisingly, it pairs really well with Cage’s reined-in (but still very much “out there”) performance. In a way, Pascal’s Javi is a stand-in for the people who will really love this film: fans of Nic Cage who want nothing more than to profess their love for the actor any way they can. For many, that step will be to see this movie —  and who knows, maybe it will inspire a new generation of Cage fanatics.

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

It’s not just Cage and Pascal chewing scenery here, either. Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz are clearly having fun with their roles as CIA agents Vivian and Martin, respectively, and Neil Patrick Harris doesn’t deviate much from his norm as Nic’s agent Richard Fink, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t absolutely hysterical.

The benefit of having one central character is that we get the closest insight possible into their thought process. In portraying Cage as an actor down on his luck, riddled with debts (loosely mirroring Cage’s real-life experience), Massive Talent gets psychological, and we delve deep into Cage’s mind…sometimes quite literally. The manifestation and antithesis to his insecurities is a younger version of himself, played by a de-aged Cage (try saying that five times fast) who features in some of the best scenes in the movie. It’s a great filmmaking tactic that allows Cage to verbalize his inner thoughts without it seeming forced or sloppy.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has a premise that’s just absurd enough to work. As soon as it nestles into the action groove, it becomes a comedy for the ages that doubles as a ridiculous spy thriller, delivering excitement, epic one-liners, and cheer moments aplenty. Plus, if you’re going to watch a meta movie about unhinged actors starring Pedro Pascal that is released in April 2022, please watch this instead of The Bubble. On the other hand, if you’re in the mood for a Nicolas Cage movie…this might be the most Nic Cage movie out there. I hope it develops a reputation as such, and that everyone comes away from Massive Talent feeling the same way I did: overwhelmed with pure joy.

Image courtesy of Lionsgate

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits theaters April 22.

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