Nicolas Cage is one of Hollywood’s most enduring divisive figures. His career has seen a great many ups and downs, and in its course, he has been both celebrated as one of the greatest actors of his generation and labeled one of the most erratic performers ever to grace the screen. It’s no secret that Corner of Film loves Nic Cage – we consider him one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors – so The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent proved an enticing prospect.
One of our most anticipated films of 2022, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a strange and interestingly-conceived love letter to Nicolas Cage’s career and the singular acting legacy he has created. It is an examination of the criticisms that he faces, the reverential treatment he receives, and the complex emotional relationship the actor has with his own career. It’s also a loose buddy-comedy with a little action thrown in, making it easily accessible to those who aren’t Cage superfans. Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Neil Patrick Harris, Ike Barinholtz, and Sharon Horgan round out the film’s impressive cast.
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent Is Ironically Light
As its name implies, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a tongue-in-cheek examination of the intersection of Nicolas Cage’s career with his personality. It subtly but surely dissects the chasm between the two prevailing opinions on Nicolas Cage – he’s seen as either a lunatic or an acting genius – but it also manages to do so in a way that doesn’t ever feel overly heavy. There’s no tripping over its intellectual foundations because it’s presented as a far more personal and introspective take on the buddy-comedy genre. It’s framed by a fictional representation of Cage’s real life, allowing it to feel grounded by reality without being bound by it.
It’s in this curious juxtaposition that much of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent‘s comedy and charm lies. Pedro Pascal’s Javi is a more straightforward everyman character. As a starstruck fan turned friend, Javi should naturally be the more relatable character for the audience, but instead, Cage himself plays the relative everyman to Javi’s suspected arms dealer character. This takes the comedy to an almost subconscious level, allowing for Massive Talent‘s jokes to land cleanly and still earn plenty of laughs.
There are times when the obvious metaphors begin to wear a little thin, but thankfully, the film doesn’t linger on them overmuch. Moments clearly written to come off as clever nods to the audience instead feel somewhat forced, whereas the more simplistic comedy scenes play out to be far more entertaining. In this, it seems that The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is almost overeager to prove itself more than a comedy, which may be its only minor weakness.
The chemistry shared by Cage and Pascal is essentially the driving force of the entire film. Their blossoming friendship and its growing pains take a standard comedy caper to an excellent conclusion, carried along in the deft comedic hands of two of Hollywood’s most beloved actors. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent addresses the idea that Cage is an eccentric and near-mythical figure by outright dispelling it, making him a larger-than-life but still relatable artist seeking understanding and redemption.
Nicolas Cage’s Introspective Performance Is More Unique Than It Seems
Take a look over Nicolas Cage’s career and you’ll see an eclectic list of credits. Bangkok Dangerous, Left Behind, Ghost Rider, Bringing Out the Dead, Leaving Las Vegas – Cage has had his share of good movies, bad ones, and everything in between. There’s something about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent that stands out, though, and it’s not immediately apparent.
Cage’s movies usually see that actor disappear into a role. Sometimes this leads to a truly powerful performance, while others come off as a little more unorthodox. Regardless, Cage is always something to behold, and that’s essentially become his entire brand. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, however, sees him become a representation of his normal self: a hard-working actor who genuinely loves his craft just trying to live his life.
It’s interesting to see Cage acting so reserved. Thankfully, there’s the inclusion of Cage’s other persona, Nicky – a representation of a younger, wilder Cage who captures the erratic free spirit he once displayed so brazenly – and that allows the film to acknowledge the deceptive complexity of the actor’s own character. It lends the film a subtly tragic air: in many ways, both Cage’s harshest critic and biggest supporter are his own self as he reflects on his career both past and present.
There’s a sweetness to The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent that’s hidden just below the surface. At the fore, there’s a solidly-written action-comedy with excellent comedic performances from its stars, but beneath is a touching tribute to Cage’s own career so far. Not only does it show how far Cage has come in a personal and professional sense, but it seems to usher in a new era of his career with carefully-written meta humor and a liberal dose of inoffensive comedy.
Summary: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent explores the huge success and popularity of Nicolas Cage as an actor while also delivering a heartfelt and enjoyable buddy comedy that’s certain to entertain fans of the actor. Its competently-written story and comedic action set pieces are brilliantly conceived to capitalize on its perfectly unique premise.
Highlight: The climactic scene in which Cage appears wearing heavy prosthetics is every bit as wonderfully bizarre as one might expect.
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