Moviegoer: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Nic Cage must save his career and his family in this
reality-bending comedy

By Diana Beechener

Coming off his latest string of underwhelming films Nic Cage (playing “Nick Cage”) is starting to feel his star fade. He can’t get work he wants in prestige movies, his daughter can’t stand his attention-seeking ways when they’re together, his debts are piling up, and worst of all, people see his movies as a joke.

         When he loses yet another part he really wanted to someone who’s taken “more seriously” in Hollywood, Cage’s agent makes a suggestion. Multi-millionaire and superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal: The Mandolorian) has offered a million dollars to Cage if he’ll appear at Javi’s birthday party. At first, Cage balks at the idea, saying he’s not a birthday clown. But when the hotel he’s been staying in presents him with a $200,000 bill, Cage reconsiders.

         He’s flown first-class to Mallorca, where he meets Javi at his family compound. At first, Cage wants as little to do with Javi and his guests as possible, but as the day progresses, Javi’s enthusiasm for Cage’s life and work becomes infectious. He starts to realize that even his silly movies have had a real impact on people, that he’s made a difference and is appreciated more than he thought.

         Too bad Javi might just be a dangerous crime lord.

         While out on the town, Cage is pulled aside by two CIA agents who inform him they’ve been watching Javi for years and he’s one of the most dangerous men in the world. They ask if he’d be willing to spy on Javi for the good of the world. Reluctantly, Cage agrees, but immediately begins having doubts that his new best friend could really be an evil mastermind.

         Can Cage use his time with Javi to revive his career, or will this lead to fulltime work in the CIA?

         A gonzo melting of reality and fantasy, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent works best when it’s not trying so hard—much like Nicolas Cage. Director and co-writer Tom Gormican (That Awkward Moment) constructs a film that is both a spoof and a tribute to Cage’s long and often odd career. There’s even a personification of Cage’s raging Id, symbolized by a de-aged 80s-era Nicolas Cage, full of screaming rants and wild eyes.

Gormican is fantastic at layering references to Cage’s filmography; there are direct parodies of famous scenes and subtle nods to famous lines and moments. It’s a feast for Cage aficionados who will doubtlessly have a blast re-watching and picking out all the Easter eggs.

         But though the film is unquestionably a self-aware flick about the career of Cage, it works best as a dramedy about two men who form a rather touching friendship. Cage and Pascal work brilliantly together and create a genuine bond that is the heart of the film and a constant delight. Cage’s jaded actor is taken aback when he finds a fellow film buff in Javi, someone who believes in Cage’s artistry and encourages it. Javi is a ball of nerves trying to talk to Cage, but soon transforms into a man who is fiercely protective of his friend’s artistic process.

         While the third act of the film isn’t so much a parody of Cage’s action schlock as it is just a genuine mess of action-movie cliches, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has some beautiful things to say about what movies mean to us all. Javi has a touching speech about how Cage’s film Guarding Tess was one of the few things he and his father enjoyed together. The speech makes Cage, who had dismissed the movie as merely “work”, re-watch it with new eyes.

         If you’re a fan of Cage, there’s plenty to love here. He gets to go through his full range—from action hero to gonzo scenery chewer to subtle dramatic lead— sometimes all within five minutes. His chemistry with Pascal is fantastic and I’d watch another adventure with Javi and Cage. Though the third act has some problems that are more story-based than parody based, this is a brilliant salute to one of our more interesting actors.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is only available in theaters.

Good Parody * R * 107 mins.