The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 47 min.

Release Date: April 22nd, 2022 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Tom Gormican Actors: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Lily Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Paco Leon, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris

 


 

“T

his is the role of a lifetime.” In Los Angeles, Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) desperately wants to participate in a good film. His strategic choices of late haven’t been the best for his image, as he’s in so many small pictures that his reputation and artistic credibility have deteriorated to that of a has-been. Rather than choosing the right roles, he’s indiscriminately opting for apparently any part that comes along, provided that the paycheck is suitable. “You seem to be working all the time.”

Cage’s career decrepitude has taken a toll on his personal relationships as well; his ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) remains exasperated at his professional failures, and his daughter (Lily Sheen) can’t stand to be around him, largely due to his insufferable self-absorption. And failing to keep up with his bills and overdoing it with booze aren’t helping, either. So when Nick’s agent (Neil Patrick Harris) gets him a gig at a birthday party – in Spain, for a wealthy fan (Pedro Pascal as olive magnate Javi Gutierrez) – the former movie star has no choice but to stoop to such embarrassingly low means of subsistence.

In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (perhaps a jab at “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”) Nicolas Cage plays an exaggerated version of himself, which is clearly the biggest selling point. Whether or not he’s actually like this manageable yet larger-than-life design is irrelevant; audiences will surely hope that this is how Cage behaves on a daily basis. And no matter how hyperbolic, it’s the most believable component of the film; once the actual plot gets underway, viewers will surely long for the calmer moments in which Cage rattles off observations or argues about the state of the industry or brainstorms in an acid-fueled haze.

It’s all basically a setup for a movie within a movie (such as in “Last Action Hero” or “Get Shorty,” with the flavor of accidental impersonations like in “North by Northwest”), boasting a delightfully self-aware styling (the script tends to evolve as the characters mull over how their actions might be more engaging in a movie setting) that features countless references to Cage’s past performances. He’s conducting himself in an incredibly silly fashion, but this heightened variation of his own persona is endlessly amusing; the more he overacts, the more like himself (or like viewers probably perceive him to be in everyday life) he becomes. Unfortunately, the environment surrounding him is something of a spy thriller – one of the most difficult genres to keep grounded in a sensible way. The supporting parts are some of the greatest stretches, as they’re not only recognizable actors (assuming fictional roles), but they also rarely handle themselves in realistic modes; this is the kind of film in which the villains must go well out of their way to delay simply executing the heroes during countless confrontations. If Cage is convincing as an extravagant vision of himself, his costars are all terribly unconvincing as down-to-earth people with whom he crosses paths.

At least many of the conversations include comedically talking shop, as if that’s the only way to communicate effectively with Cage’s vanity and aloofness. His eccentricity is generally enough to keep the laughs going, but every time the spy plot resurfaces (devoid of logic and rational outcomes), the overdone daredevilry appears far too fictionalized for it to jibe with the classic moments of Cage’s unhinged mania. But with all the hysterical nods to the actor’s previous works, as well as through embracing his perceived quirkiness (and desire for scenes in which he can freak out unreservedly), it’s difficult not to recommend this flick to anyone who has followed the star’s career – from such acclaimed comedies and romances like “Raising Arizona” and “Moonstruck” to his Oscar-winning turn in “Leaving Las Vegas” to his action hero transformation in “The Rock” and “Con Air” to the riveting weirdness of “Mom and Dad” and “Mandy.” “The man is a legend.”

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10