Nicolas Cage’s tendency to over-act has become the stuff of legends on the internet, where the actor has been immortalizes in meme culture, despite his less-than-stellar recent filmography — he’s gotten a reputation for starring in a large amount of low-quality Video-On-Demand films to pay off debt. In 2019 alone, he starred in six such films, but he’s also given a strong performance here and there in films like “Pig” and “Mandy.”
In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” Cage plays himself and very much addresses the highs and lows of his career, from “National Treasure” to “The Wicker Man.” Cage finds himself down on his luck, unable to score major roles, while finding himself constantly working — no doubt doing the VOD releases he felt like he had to take in order to pay off his debts, which the film also addresses. In the film, Cage is a divorcee who finds himself spending copious amounts of money staying at a hotel room, in which he has a tenuous relationship with his ex-wife, Olivia Henson (Sharon Horgan) and is barely present in the life of his daughter, Addy (Lily Sheen), because of the number of roles he takes on. When his agent, Richard Fink (Neil Patrick Harris), gets a high-paying offer for Cage to attend the birthday party of billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) on the island of Majorca, he initially declines, but embarrassed by how little he’s connected with his daughter, eventually accepts, vowing to retire from acting after the trip.
Javi is a Nicolas Cage super fan who wants to push his movie script onto the actor, and the two connect. They share the same taste in films and Cage and Pascal just have great chemistry together, and their time together convinces Cage to cancel his retirement and plan a film with Javi. But not all is well in paradise when Javi’s cousin, Lucas (Paco León), as well as CIA agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) get involved, revealing the dark secrets behind Javi’s wealth that forms most of the plot.
This film is very similar at times to “Being John Malkovich” in regards to its metacommentary about Cage’s life, career and popularity on the internet, but it doesn’t fully embrace the bizarre like that film did, which I think was a missed opportunity. For the most part, Cage plays himself seriously, but there are occasional instances of Cage overacting gold, such as when his younger, more successful self, Nicky shows up to torment him (Cage literally makes out with himself … it does get weird, but that’s expected).
Cage and Pascal’s chemistry make the film work, as it’s a buddy drama at heart, and because of that, the film manages to have a few well-done dramatic moments between the two of them. Action scenes are sprinkled throughout and they are fine, but they’re mostly tied to the crime aspect of the film tied to Lucas, which is the weakest part of it.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a fine film that will appease Cage fans, but it does little for general audiences. It’s very much like an inside joke in regards to the fact that, if you’re unfamiliar with Cage’s career, tendency to overact, and recent ups and downs, you’re not going to be able to fully appreciate this film. It also suffers from an identity crisis — it doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy, a thriller, an action film, or a family drama, and as such, tries to be all four and doesn’t quite work as any.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” gets a 6/10