THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT

★★★

NICOLAS CAGE IN THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME

THEATRICAL REVIEW
By Connor Dalton
21st April 2022

With a career spanning over 40 years, Nicolas Cage has played many roles. We've seen him as a chef, hitman, superhero, arms dealer, terrorist, and a man sent by God to kill a terrorist. Of course, the role of an actor is to inhabit a variety of different characters, but there's something different about how Cage does it. He's a man who loves to challenge himself and push the boundaries of film performance, irrespective of his role. It's what's made him such an exciting performer and left so many people — myself included — mystified by his legend. So it was all but inevitable that Cage would one day play himself - and the result, like Cage, is surreal, clever, and a damn good time.

In 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent', Nicolas Cage portrays Nick Cage. No longer the movie star he once was, Cage is struggling for work and in a considerable amount of debt. As his desperation deepens, Cage reluctantly accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday party of a wealthy super fan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal, TV's 'The Mandalorian', 'Wonder Woman 1984'). It sounds like easy enough work, but upon arriving in Spain, Cage is told by a pair of CIA agents that Javi is the head of a cartel and holding the daughter of a presidential candidate captive. Now working as the CIA's inside man, Cage gets the role of a lifetime as he attempts to find the missing girl while keeping Javi's suspicions at bay.

'THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT' TRAILER

The first thing to say about 'Massive Talent' is that it’s an endearing love letter to Nicolas Cage. We’ve had enough cheap jokes and lazy criticism at Cage’s expense, and, thankfully, this film places itself as a fan of its subject. The character of Javi works as a surrogate for director Tom Gormican ('That Awkward Moment'), who respectfully pays tribute to someone who clearly means a lot to him, as he does to so many of us. Therefore, a lot of the humour pertains to Cage’s career and craft. For someone like myself who has made no secret of their love for the man, to see a deconstruction of someone I adore presented with the same adoration I feel made me feel good. I grinned the whole way through because 'Massive Talent' allows us to hang out with someone who’s given us so much joy.

The film also benefits from just how committed Nicolas Cage is in playing himself. Throughout 'Massive Talent', it's evident that Cage is revelling the opportunity to play this rendition of Nick Cage. With not an iota of vanity, he delivers a sharp and self-aware performance that bodes well with the film's referential qualities. His comedic timing is flawless, and the chemistry he shares with Pedro Pascal is charming to boot. A large portion of the film is just these two characters interacting, and Cage's commitment matched by Pascal's enthusiasm adds a natural sweetness amid the hijinks and comedy. 'Massive Talent' is all about its wit and heart, and Cage and Pascal handle that balance dextrously.

It's evident that Cage is revelling the opportunity to play this rendition of Nick Cage. His comedic timing is flawless, and the chemistry he shares with Pedro Pascal is charming to boot.

Along with its warmth and terrific performances, ‘Massive Talent’ is also a superb studio comedy. Its humour is twofold; it isn’t afraid to be broad and silly, which often results in big laughs. Secondly, there’s ingenuity to be found in its metatextual comedy. The film often exudes some clever insights into the state of the cinematic landscape and what is required for a film to be presentable for a broad audience. Despite having a mixture of wacky and analytical wisecracks, one never wears out its welcome or makes the other feel out of place. It never goes for an easy gag, and the film is so much better for it.

'Massive Talent' at times verges on greatness, but there are issues that hold it back. The passion from Tom Gormican radiates in every frame, but in moments, the film could have benefited from steadier hands. The first act is a bit haphazard in its pacing as scenes end abruptly, and some jokes are missing that extra beat they need. The music can also be somewhat abrasive which leaves an on-the-nose feeling it could do without. Around the midway mark, the film does settle into its groove, and from there, it's a cracking time. However, there’s a lack of refinement that can be distracting.

That said, 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' is a beautiful ode to one of cinema's finest performers. After years of seeing Nicolas Cage dazzle on our screens, it’s lovely to see Hollywood pay him the recognition that has delineated a tad over time. Cage delivers a brilliant performance in a role few could pull off, headlining an intelligent and earnest comedy that I wish came around more often. You’ll come out thinking: long live the movies, and long live Nicolas Cage.

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