Film Review: Cage, Pascal shine in ‘Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

For fans of actor Nicolas Cage, it doesn’t get any better than “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” — an action comedy with meta humor and Cage playing a fictionalized (and self-deprecating) version of himself. Shake into that a hilarious Pedro Pascal mix of his “Narcos” Pablo Escobar character and a pinch of buddy comedy archetypes, along with Michael Bay-esque action sequences, and you get a laugh-out-loud comedy that is just right for today’s climate.

Written and directed by Tom Gormican, whose directorial debut came in 2014’s “That Awkward Moment,” “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” hits a grand slam in Gormican’s return to the director’s chair. Whether it’s Cage and Pascal’s character Javy running from imaginary spies while on LSD, or heart-to-heart intimate moments between Cage and his alter ego, Young Nic from his “Wild At Heart” age, the nods and inside jokes for film fans is almost never ending. 

The plot centers around a fictionalized Nicolas Cage, who bears very little resemblance to the real Cage, my fellow Las Vegas resident who occasionally enjoys drinking to near blackout on weeknights at Lawry’s The Prime Rib here in town (as do I). Thanks to Cage’s constant need to be working, which leads to such classic bad films like “Running with the Devil” and “The Humanity Bureau,” teamed with a self-absorbed fear of artist irrelevance, Cage accepts an offer to join a shadowy fan’s birthday party in Spain in return for a large payment that will help him clear massive debt from living at the acclaimed Chateau Marmont. 

As he arrives, he is propositioned by CIA agents Vivian (played by Tiffany Haddish, “Night School”) and Martin (played by Ike Barinholtz, “Blockers”) to spy on his host, Javy — a billionaire playboy who may or may not be involved in organized crime. When Cage and Javy hit it off, a “Pineapple Express-esque” friendship blossoms, forcing Cage to choose between duty and friendship.

Other than last year’s “Pig,” a fantastic indie role for Cage, it’s been a while since we’ve seen this fun version of the Francis Ford Coppola’s eclectic nephew. He is unhinged, weird, self-absorbed and absolutely hysterical. The constant references to some of his more obscure dramatic work like “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” run headlong into his roles as action hero/movie star in such classic Michael Bay films as “The Rock” and “Con Air.”

Pascal also shines in his second comedic role this year (along with the COVID-era comedy “The Bubble”). His portrayal of Javy as conflicted superfan and potential dangerous antagonist makes for some utterly hysterical scenes in what amounts to a two-man “buddy comedy.” I can’t even begin to describe how hard I laughed when the two drop LSD and try to craft a screenplay. The entire sequence is something straight out of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas ” and “Pineapple Express.” 

The film also gets some humorous interactions between Cage’s fictional wife Olivia, played by Sharon Horgan, and Addy, played by Kate Beckinsale’s real life daughter, Lilly Sheen. There’s even a hilarious Demi Moore cameo, if you’re lookin out for it.

It goes without saying that this is both a parody on Nic Cage’s struggle with relevance and genius while set against the constant homage to Michael Bay’s classic 1990s action styles, slo-mo montages with giant American flags included. The film feels like a love song to Cage and Bay, with Javy playing all of us. So many film references, so many nods to Cage’s status as a cult icon. 

After last week’s “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” this is the second weekend in a row we get a wholly original film that isn’t a reboot, remake, a comic book sequel or a reimagining. Self-deprecating at all times, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a fresh break from the doldrums of the usual slate of low-hanging fruit comedies this year.

All in all, this is a comedy worth seeing for anyone familiar with Cage and his work. Even my fiance, — being that she’s nine years younger than me — even said it was hilarious, proving it can transcend generational gaps.

I look forward to watching this again, and maybe — if I’m lucky — I’ll get a chance to drink a few whiskeys and discuss it with Nic Cage some day when our paths cross at Lawry’s, also one of my favorite spots here in Vegas.

Until then, “why couldn’t you just put the bunny back in the box?”

1 thought on “Film Review: Cage, Pascal shine in ‘Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’”

  1. Pingback: Film Review: 'Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness' suffers under weight of expectations - The Tainted Glove Network

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