Photo | “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” – Lionsgate
I have not had as much fun watching a movie in quite some time as I had watching “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” starring Nicolas Cage. The only person who possibly had more fun was Cage himself, as he skewers, embraces and embodies all that is ridiculous and sublime about his career by playing himself, an actor struggling with his professional and personal choices and options.
The story is about an actor named Nicolas Cage and, played by Nicolas Cage, and it reminded me of two imaginative meta-narratives from about 20 years ago — Charlie Kaufman’s “Being John Malkovich,” which featured Malkovich playing himself, many times over, and Kaufman’s “Adaptation,” which was also a movie about making a movie and, of course, starred Cage in two roles. In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” Cage portrays contemporary Nicolas Cage and the manic, confident Nicolas Cage of his youth, digitally de-aged, who shows up periodically in the present time to chastise Cage for various reasons. At one point, the two Cages passionately kiss.
The glue that holds this wacky concept together is the loveable presence of Pedro Pascal as Javi, a wealthy super-fan who pays Cage $1 million to come to his birthday party in Majorca, Spain. The bond that grows between the two men is hilarious and adorable, as it changes from simply Cage soaking in the adoration of a fawning fan to a deeper appreciation and understanding of one another, as they collaborate on a screenplay. They also take LSD and explore Javi’s collection of Cage memorabilia, and Javi coordinates an intervention for Cage’s family relationships. You could watch this film and not about Nicolas Cage’s career and still love the splendid bromance that blossoms between the two men. It is unironically delightful and sells the film’s conceit entirely.
Last seen in the understated, idiosyncratic “Pig,” the point of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is that it embraces the wild mood swings of Cage’s career, from winning an Oscar for his painfully realistic portrayal in “Leaving Las Vegas” to his signature deranged overacting style and string of low budget films, including several filmed right here in Mobile. He intentionally runs the gamut here, from believable to insane and back again.
Struggling to define his identity as an actor, mending relations with his daughter and ex-wife and paying off some massive debts, Cage accepts the paid birthday party invitation and soon finds himself working for the CIA when it appears that Javi is part of a dangerous crime family. What starts as a behind-the-scenes Hollywood movie soon becomes a regular Hollywood action-comedy, which, of course, is the point.
As such, it is simply a funny spy movie, with two very amusing and loveable protagonists. It also functions as a feature-length Cage meme. Certainly, the stronger your familiarity with his work, the deeper your appreciation for the many references and quotes peppered throughout the film; I’m sure I missed many myself. However, it is not only an ironic Cage fest; it’s a clever adventure with many creative and inspired touches.
The hilarious Irish actress Sharon Horgan is great as Cage’s ex-wife, while Lily Sheen, herself the daughter of celebs Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale, brings some emotional weight to the film as Cage’s daughter. Pascal, however, is the sweet-faced MVP. Too bad his face is covered in his most famous role so far, that of the Mandalorian on the show of the same title, because he is one expressive and charming dude. Like Cage, there is a whole component of his fame that is based solely on internet feelings about him, which makes this pairing all the more perfect as they take the jokes about themselves and turn them back into a real film with real laughs, real action and even a bit of real heart.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is now streaming.
New This Week:
“Elvis”: Visionary, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Baz Luhrmann explores the life and music of Elvis Presley, starring Austin Butler and Oscar-winner Tom Hanks. A thoroughly cinematic drama, Elvis’s (Butler) story is seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks). As told by Parker, the film delves into the complex dynamic between the two spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge). All multiplex theaters, Nexus Cinema Dining, Crescent Theater.
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