A cash-strapped Nicolas Cage agrees to make a paid appearance at a billionaire super fan’s birthday party, but is really an informant for the CIA since the billionaire fan is a drug kingpin and gets cast in a Tarantino movie.
If you could think of an actor who would be a perfect fit for a movie where he plays a version of himself in a self referential and incredibly meta movie, then I don’t suspect Nicolas Cage would be too far from your mind. Over the years Cage has developed a cult following, as much for his off screen persona as his cinematic choices, which have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous, particularly in recent years. He is an actor that splits opinion, mainly as he does a hell of a lot of films and a lot of them are rubbish. However, he does have a wider range than given credit for (‘Pig’, ‘Leaving Las Vegas’) and has made some cracking films (‘Con Air’, ‘Face/Off’).
‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ leans massively on this ‘legend’, portraying a version of Cage who, not too unlike his real self, is at a bit of a career crossroads after a series of dodgy movies and is looking for something to get him back into the game. He’s sometimes joined by a younger version of himself (think Cage in ‘Wild at Heart’) who has more confidence than ‘real’ Cage, and yes, we see a snog between the two – possibly the weirdest scene of an actor meeting themselves since John Malkovich entered his own head in the super (and far superior) ‘Being John Malkovich’! Much of the plot of the film centres on Cage accepting an offer of $1m to be the guest of honour at a billionaire playboy’s birthday party. When it turns out said playboy (Javi, a very enjoyable Pedro Pascal) may actually be less a playboy and more a cartel boss, Cage finds himself recruited by the CIA to spy on him.
My biggest takeaway from ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is that it isn’t as fun as I’d hoped it would be. That’s not to say this is boring and it certainly has its moments, just that the outline sounds better on paper than it does on screen – much like, I suspect, the movie that Cage and Javi end up working on together. I liked Sharon Horgan as his ex-wife and wish she had more screentime, Pascal was good as Javi, and Cage himself as we know will throw himself into everything – a particular sequence with prosthetics and a wig being perhaps the highlight of the movie. It’s a bit long for such a daft film but ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ did make me laugh, and it may have achieved that rarest of things, a recent Nic Cage movie that isn’t either absolutely terrible or absurdly brilliant. More’s the pity.
Directed By: Tom Gormican
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Lily Sheen, Paco León, David Gordon Green, Demi Moore and Anna MacDonald