The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
The Nicolas Cage meta film is a fun if generic comedy
Nicolas Cage has delivered some of the most unique and inimitable performances of the last few decades, for better or worse. The actor’s style, defined by himself as “mega-acting” seeks to be the opposite of the naturalistic and calculated styles of the New York acting schools of the 1950 and 1960s. As a result, the actor has taken on a defined screen persona, always keeping viewers on their toes. In recent years, as the advent of the “movie star” has faded for the rise of IP, Cage has delved into making bizarre indies. His latest film seeks to look back at his career, from his stardom days in the 90s and early 2000s, to his cult hits of recent years.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) is a film about actor Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) who after seeing intriguing roles drying up in Hollywood, decides to go amuse billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) in Mallorca, Spain. However, Cage is soon recruited by a CIA Agent (Tiffany Haddish) who believes Gutierrez is the head of a criminal syndicate.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is only the second film directed by Tom Gormican, who had previously made the by-the-numbers romantic comedy That Awkward Moment (2014). The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which Gormican also co-wrote, is much more refreshing, playing with meta commentary of both Cage’s film career as well as Hollywood at large. However, instead of lingering on the funny gimmick of Cage playing himself, the film smartly moves along towards a larger narrative. This was the case with other films of stars playing themselves, such as Being John Malkovich (). While The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent does not reach Charlie Kauffman’s heights, it does evolve into an enjoyable if predictable spy comedy.
At the core of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the rather effective and touching bromance between Cage and Gutierrez. Any scene with Pascal and Cage interacting is an absolute treasure of both comedy and character development. The talented Pascal even takes Gutierrez’s bland character and brings about a complexity the film never deserved. Gormican adequately stages his action and comedic bits, never getting too stylized and bringing tonal clarity.
In terms of Cage himself, he is able to have quite a bit of fun both ridiculing as well as analyzing himself. He is able to let loose in some moments, such as when he plays an imaginary younger version of himself (in one scene even making out with himself), but Cage largely remains tethered by his standards. This is due mostly to the core structure of a predictable comedy-adventure film, which doesn’t allow for the surreal moments where Cage thrives such as in Mandy (2018). Nevertheless, Cage delivers – as always – a unique take on his character.
In the end, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a fun if generic comedy, whose initial meta gimmick delivers steady laughs throughout. The film is mostly saved by the central friendship of the two leads, even if their performances are somewhat constrained by their genre. Overall, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is yet another uniquely bizarre entry in Cage’s recent filmography, one can only hope he continues to surprise us and push forward these original stories.