Sometimes An Ego Does A Body Good: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
By Jonas Schwartz
No one deserves to be mocked more than Nick Cage, the Action Star. Ridiculously bombastic and over-excitable, he always seems on the verge of spontaneous combustion. No one has the skills to mock Nic Cage like Oscar winner Nicolas Kim Cage, an actor who can get deep into a character and really understand their motivations and sensitive spots. Therefore, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent could only be about ONE actor and that actor could only be portrayed by ONE actor, HIMSELF.
In a meta world not far from our own, Nick (I had always seen his shortened name as Nic but the posters say Nick, so I write Nick), has hit desperation in his career. Lunching with Director David Gordon Green (the Halloween reboot director as himself), Nick, uninvitedly bellows an embarrassing monologue to the director in the car valet lot. It goes about as well as expected. Estranged from both his wife (Sharon Horgan, TV’s Catastrophe) and daughter (Lily Mo Sheen), his ‘60s appear to be the end of his decades long fame. His agent, who’s named Fink of course (Neil Patrick Harris), lists the opportunities that ‘went another way’ and then lands him a celebrity appearance at a Spanish millionaire’s party. Realizing his opportunities have dried up, Nick flies to Majorca for a relaxing stay at a palatial home on the water, and THAT’S when he lands inside a Nicolas Cage action movie, complete with machine guns, CIA operatives, kidnapped children, and only ONE man capable of saving the day.
Cage, already comfortable living in meta universes after Charlie Kaufman’s Adaptation, revels in the film’s insanity. The movie zips between a joke about narcissistic actors, a spoof of Nic Cage action films, and a tender platonic love story between two men who never revealed themselves to anyone before, and never gives the audience whiplash. Co-Writer/Director Tom Gormican makes sure the premise does not overwhelm the other elements and constructs a very fun summer film. He’s not as complex as Kaufman, and some of his wandering make little sense -- other than as a wink to Adaptation, why does Cage hang out with a younger/CGI’d version of himself? – but the script from him and Kevin Etten is witty and goofy at the same time.
Cage finds that balance between his talent in Leaving Las Vegas and his bomb-worthy trash performances in The Wicker Man,volleying between both calibers, to folly his rollercoaster career in this hilarious portrayal. Pedro Pascal steals the show as Cage’s mysterious host, a man embroiled in intrigue who is also a dopily loveable Nick Cage fanatic. Harris has always played sleaze well and is amusing in the small role of the agent. Horgan, who’s in a completely different, but just as gripping, movie, a Kramer vs Kramer – but Cage vs. Cage, brings resonance to the frustration of a mother seeing her daughter ignored by an egotistical father.
Far from a standard summer fare, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is Being John Malkovich-lite, quirky but filled with crashing cars and boisterous humor.