To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an action-comedy film directed by Tom Gormican, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kevin Etten. Featuring Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, Lily Sheen, Katrin Vankova, and Tiffany Haddish.
The story follows a fictionalized version of Nicolas Cage who, after being passed up on a major movie role, accepts a $1 million offer from billionaire Spanish playboy Javi Gutierrez to be the guest of honor at his birthday party. However, once Cage arrives in Majorca, he is recruited by CIA agents to spy on Javi as they believe he is a ruthless arms dealer.
In an apartment, we see a Spanish-speaking young woman (Katrin Vankova), and her boyfriend smoking weed and watching Con Air on television. As they talk about how great of an actor Nicolas Cage is, masked men break into the apartment. They attempt to escape to safety but are knocked out and captured by the men. In Hollywood, Nicolas Cage (Nicolas Cage) is struggling with his career after not having a major role in years. He is deep in debt, going through a divorce, and doesn’t have the best relationship with his daughter Addy (Lily Sheen). His agent Richard (Neil Patrick Harris) offers him a meet and greet with a fan that pays $1 million, but Cage declines. After losing another huge role, Cage gets drunk, embarrasses himself at his daughter’s birthday party, and decides to retire from acting altogether. The next day he decides to accept the $1 million offer to help him pay off his debts.
Arriving in Majorca, Cage initially dismisses Javi (Pedro Pascal) as a valet. Upon realizing who he is, they begin to bond over their shared love of obscure film. They watch Paddington 2 and Cage agrees to read Javi’s script. While the two are visiting town, Cage is approached by CIA agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz). They believe that Javi is the head of a cartel that kidnapped Maria Delgado, the daughter of the President of Catalonia. Though Cage doesn’t believe Javi is capable of this crime, he agrees to bug Javi’s house to help them find the missing girl.
Actors playing fictionalized versions of themselves is nothing new in Hollywood. There’s John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich, the entire cast of This Is the End, an actor from this film, Neil Patrick Harris, in the Harold and Kumar Trilogy, and many more. When an actor can step back and make fun of themselves it helps them become more relatable to the audience– they have flaws and aren’t afraid to open up. Typically, the stories are exuberant and their depictions of themselves are exaggerated, which makes for good comedy.
As always, Cage appears to be having fun in the role. He gets to open up to the audience about his feelings and make fun of himself at the same time. The film acts almost as a tribute to his film career as there are references to many of his past films. There is even a younger version of himself that appears and talks to him a couple of times to remind him who he is. There are times when the de-aging used looks cheap, but it’s still amazing to see how far we’ve come with that technology. Cage and Pascal have great chemistry with the two playing off each other like they hang out regularly. The scenes where Javi is being a total fanboy feel genuine like Pascal truly felt that way. It would be great to see these two paired on screen together again.
While The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is very much a comedy and the story is nowhere near something that happened to Nicolas Cage, I feel like he used this film as a vessel to reveal some of his true feelings to the audience. In a scene when Cage is talking to his therapist, he mentions that acting is the only job where working too much is seen as a bad thing. Since he loves acting, he is willing to do as many films as he is offered. Even if the scripts he gets are subpar, he never phones it in and always gives it 100%. This is something Cage has spoken on in many of his interviews recently. He also mentioned that he had debts to pay off and the smaller films were helping him take care of them.
Though actors are public figures, we never truly know what’s going on in their personal life. Bruce Willis is another actor who was said to be doing too many low-budget films. However, recently Willis’ family released a statement about his declining mental faculties due to repeated head trauma. Turns out he was doing all these films because he knew his time as an actor was coming to an end. Perspective matters and sometimes viewers don’t have all the information about what’s going on in celebrities’ lives.
The flick is pretty short, which makes sense for a comedy, but it does come to what feels like an abrupt ending that changes the story completely. The ending leaves you wondering if all of the events were a movie within a movie. It’s almost like the writers didn’t know where to take the story next and decided to skip ahead and show that everything worked out for the protagonists. This feels lazy, especially when the main story was close to being wrapped up.
While I was hoping I would get more of the classic Cage that a grew up watching, it was still nice to get introspective into the man Cage is now. I give The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent a Solid 6.5/10. It’s great that Cage never plans to retire because I could watch him forever.