"Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent" a hoot that celebrates Nick Fuckiiiiiiiiiiiiing Cage

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Ridiculous in all the best ways, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is absolutely the Nic Cage-iest movie to end all Nic Cage movies. After starring in so many direct-to-the-bargain-bin throwaways and becoming the subject of so many memes from Neil LaBute’s “The Wicker Man” remake, Cage has most recently undergone a late-career renewal with smaller, weirder indies (“Mandy,” “Color Out of Space,” “Pig”), and yet he always commits 110% to the job. Now, writer-director Tom Gormican (2014’s “That Awkward Moment”) and co-writer Kevin Etten have given the actor the role of a lifetime: playing himself. This might not even make Cage's top five wildest performances, but it's certainly one of his funniest and actually gets the closest to understanding what makes Cage such a fascinating enigma.

It’s an inspired conceit for Nicolas Cage to play “Nick Cage,” or at least a semi-fictionalized version of himself (read: narcissistic and slightly more crazed). As an actor who loves working and faces criticism for working too much, he still guns for the next role, even if that means cornering director David Gordon Green (played by David Gordon Green) for an audition and not getting it. He’s also a self-involved father to 16-year-old Addy (Lily Sheen) and doesn’t really listen to what she wants. Despite pep talks with imaginary alter ego Nicky Kim Coppola (a de-aged Cage back to his David Lynch days), Nick realizes he needs to retire from acting and focus on his family. Reluctantly accepting an offer from his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) for an easy $1 million, Nick takes a plane to Mallorca, Spain, where he attends the birthday party of wealthy superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal). It turns out his host has not only written a script for Nick in mind, but Javi is possibly an international arms dealer wanted by the CIA for kidnapping the Spanish President’s daughter (who’s seen gushing over “Con Air” before being attacked). Two CIA agents (a reliably funny but underused Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) are sent to take him down, but when the agents see Nick is staying with Javi, they rope the actor into being their eyes and ears. Naturally, Nick gets wrapped up in his budding friendship with Javi.

Larger-than-life but knowing when not to take himself so seriously, Nicolas Cage and the cast are all in on the joke—and so are we—that the movie never feels like a self-serving vanity project. Beginning a loose change of pace with the roles he takes, Pedro Pascal is so endearing and brings so much charm and earnestness to Javi. His loopy chemistry with Cage is irresistibly sweet, and a whole movie could be spent on them just bonding time over movies and walking through Javi's shrine of the actor's movies. Just wait until you hear Javi’s eclectic movie taste with his top three picks, one of which becomes a perfect handshake movie for Nick. Lily Sheen (daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen) is a self-possessed breakout as Nick’s daughter Addy, who’s tired of being forced to watch “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.” The enormously charismatic Sharon Horgan sharpens up what could have been a thankless Ex-Wife role with her ace comic timing and delivery. 

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” entertains as a buddy comedy, a meta send-up of Hollywood acting personas, and a celebration of Nicolas Cage, no matter who you are or if you know Cage from “Moonstruck,” or “The Rock," or “The Croods 2.” It’s also an action spy thriller, and as is sometimes the case with movies referencing themselves, this one eventually becomes the exact thing it's citing to the point of stretching the main joke to the brink. The kidnapping plot might be the least surprising part of the script and it admittedly runs out of steam before fully resolving itself. Nevertheless, it’s never enough to detract from the pleasures of this madcap, bromantically sweet hoot. C'mon, it's Nick Fuckiiiiiiiiiiiiing Cage.

Grade: B

Lionsgate is releasing “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” (106 min.) in theaters on April 22, 2022.