- Director: Tom Gormican
- Writers: Tom Gormican, Kevin Etten
- Stars: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Lily Sheen, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Alessandra Mastronardi, Paco León
- Release Date: April 22, 2022
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Trailer
It’s nearly impossible to think of another actor who has maintained a stronger presence over the course of his career, whether on or off the screen, than Nicolas Cage. Since the early 1980s, Cage has been delivering audiences quotable gems and iconic moments, inadvertently creating something of a cult around himself in the process. From screaming “Not the bees!” in The Wicker Man to his gloriously bizarre southern accent in Con Air, Cage has been delivering audiences quotable gems and iconic moments since the early 1980s.
No one understands the significance of Cage’s presence more than Tom Gormican, the director and co-writer of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a film in which Cage appears as himself. In this version of “Nick” Cage is going through a tough time in his professional life, and he can’t seem to land a significant role to save his life. His ex-wife Sally (Sharon Horgan) and teenage daughter Addy (Lily Sheen) are at their wits’ end because of his arrogant attitude (the most egregious example being his refusal to stop trying to force Addy to watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)…and he’s in debt to the tune of $600,000! As a result of his tax troubles a decade ago, the real Nicolas Cage has been forced to accept roles that are less than prestigious.)
After his agent Ted (Neil Patrick Harris) offers him a gig that will pay him $1 million to attend superfan Javi’s (Pedro Pascal) birthday party on the Spanish island of Mallorca, Nick has no choice but to accept it despite his reservations. Things take a catastrophic turn after Nick arrives in Spain when CIA agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Ray (Ike Barinholtz) inform him that they believe Javi has kidnapped the daughter of a political leader. As a result, the actor is compelled to stay and attempt to rescue the girl using all of the stealth and fortitude he has gained from his action roles.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a novel that expertly weaves together a variety of different types of stories. The film is occasionally a buddy comedy, and Cage and Pascal have such strong on-screen chemistry that they effortlessly elevate the genre to its pinnacle of excellence. Aside from that, it’s a straight-faced spy thriller, complete with stunts performed by Nicolas Cage that will undoubtedly remind the audience of classics such as National Treasure and The Rock. The most impressive aspect of The Unbearable Weight, however, is its remarkable level of self-awareness.
The majority of this comes from Cage himself, who does an excellent job of channeling caricatures that audiences are familiar with and enjoy. The character of “Nicky” (billed as Nicolas Kim Coppola, Cage’s real name) is reminiscent of Cage’s sleazy, long-haired alter-ego from the 1990s Con Air slash Wild at Heart films. Cage plays Nicky in the film “Nicky.” Consider the film Adaptation if director Charlie Kaufman had chosen the machismo route. Nicky is pushed to his absolute limits by Cage, who delivers his lines in a hilariously emphatic cadence while giving Nick impassioned pep talks about the importance of recapturing the fame he had 20 years earlier.
The Unbearable Weight is self-aware not only in the sense that it features a well-known actor playing himself but also in the way it is constructed. When Nick realizes that he will have to stay at Javi’s house until the CIA is able to locate and rescue the kidnapped girl, he persuades the latter to let him stay by suggesting that they collaborate on the next great Nicolas Cage film together. The two of them are constantly bringing attention to the modern blockbuster format as they brainstorm the script, which inevitably draws our attention to the fact that The Unbearable Weight adheres to the modern blockbuster format as well. At one point, Nick explains to Javi that they require a “hook” of the action-movie variety in order to draw people into the theaters. It is possible, he speculates, that this will take the form of kidnapping. Indeed, Nick is constantly making observations about the structure of the movie he is currently inhabiting thanks to the script he and Javi wrote together. “Talky comedies are not my cup of tea. Towards the end of an aimless walk-and-talk scene between him and Javi, he declares, “It’s got to have some sort of plot to move it forward.” As the film nears the conclusion of its third act, Nick remarks that “it’s past time for us to figure out how this thing ends.”
Sadly, this is the point at which the film’s self-awareness is least effective. Despite the fact that The Unbearable Weight makes light of the fact that it, at times, follows the cold formula of a blockbuster film…it is still the cold formula of a blockbuster film. Indeed, the film’s locations and action sequences are frequently adorned with flat and predictable computer-generated imagery, and much of the dialogue is stilted. It is, however, in the writing of its supporting characters that the film most closely resembles a blockbuster film in the traditional sense. Despite the fact that Horgan is effortlessly funny and likable, she is ultimately reduced to the stereotype of the frustrated ex-wife. Even though Sheen possesses undeniable on-screen presence, he often comes across as more of a vehicle for the Cages’ pathos than anything else.
However, despite these flaws, The Unbearable Weight is a compelling novel on nearly every level. If you’re a huge Nicolas Cage fan, you’ll be delighted by the abundance of nods to the filmography that the film contains. But even if you aren’t (though you will be after watching this film), this is an emotionally charged, engaging, funny, and riveting film to watch. Perhaps the weight of immense talent is indeed unbearable, but The Unbearable Weight will make you more grateful than ever that Nicolas Cage is still willing to bear it with grace and dignity.