‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent:’ Cage has charm, but film lacks substance



Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal star in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive talent,” released on April 22.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a love letter to Nicolas Cage, one of the most memorable actors to ever grace the silver screen. The movie is an action comedy wrapped in meta humor about Cage. While the movie gets a fair share of laughs out of me it is missing the material needed to stand out amongst Cage’s extensive filmography.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” follows a down on his luck Cage, played by the man himself. After losing out on a big acting job, Cages takes a $1 million gig to be a guest at a superfan’s birthday party. Javi Gutierrez, portrayed by Pedro Pascal, is the Cage fanatic who quickly develops a strong bromance with the actor. However, two CIA agents, played by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz, approach Cage and tell him Javi is a powerful gangster and ask him to use his newfound friendship to gather intel on the dangerous man. Cage is faced with the strenuous decision between his country or the friendship of his close companion.

Let me be clear before you read the rest of this review, I am a huge Nick Cage fan. Not as big as Pascal’s character in this movie, but I turn on a Cage movie whenever I need to feel good for two hours. Cage is a unique actor because of the effort he puts into his performances, regardless of the quality of the movie. It does not matter if he is playing a gruff action hero, a reclusive truffle farmer, a conspiracy-theorist historian or any other of his numerous roles, Cage gives 110 percent of his acting chops into the movie. Sure, this gave us hundreds of memes of his often ridiculous performances, but I think it is amazing that he has been working in Hollywood for over forty years and has not phoned in a single performance.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is chock full of Cage-isms and references to his large body of work. While as a Cage fan I got some level of enjoyment out of this, it really is not much more than the movie saying, “Hey! Remember how funny and weird Nick Cage is?” Instead of writing their own clever bits about the eccentricities of the actor, the movie relies on reference humor that plagues many cringe-worthy movies like “Ready Player One” or 2016’s “Ghostbusters.”

The best part of this movie is the relationship between Cage and Pascal. They have one of my favorite onscreen bromances I have ever seen. Their relationship starts out as purely transactional, but as the movie progresses the two men find themselves growing closer and closer. The chemistry between Cage and Pascal makes it impossible to watch their friendship without a smile on your face.

When the movie isn’t showing us a beautiful bromance or fan service references we are given a mediocre action comedy. Cage and Pascal do their best to have fun with it, but the lackluster writing really shows in these segments. The CIA versus gangster plot does not have the love that was so clearly put into the other parts of this movie. The action scenes do not nearly reach the same highs as Cage’s best action work, such as “Face/Off” or “Con Air.” This movie’s action is passable, but lacks the insanity or charm that we have grown to expect with Nick Cage movies.

Cage’s portrayal of himself is another highlight. This iteration of Cage is an alcoholic, bad father, and plans to retire from acting. His character has a washed-up feeling that perfectly captures how much of the public perceives the actor. One unfortunate downside of the way this movie portrays him is the figment of his imagination, Nicky. Nicky is a young Cage who reminds the current day Cage of his talent and starpower.

As an idea, I really like current day Cage interacting with a younger version of himself full of the energy and wildness that made him a household name. However, the movie ruins this fun idea with terrible deaging effects on Cage. Nicky looks like an action figure and completely took me out of the movie whenever he was on screen. I love the performance he gives, which is very reminiscent of his role in “Wild at Heart,” but the plastic-like skin of the character takes away from my enjoyment of the character.

As a whole package, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” has a lot to like. The bromance between Cage and Pascal, Cage’s exaggerated version of himself, and the meta jokes about the unconventional actor were easily my favorite parts. The movie is brought down by surface-level writing, mediocre action and a half-baked plot. This movie is at its best when Cage and Pascal are just hanging out and being goofy together. I am very happy this is a movie that exists, but I really do wish it left me with something more.

I am giving “The Unbearable Weight of a Massive Talent” three out of five stars.