Sometimes a brilliant idea looks good on paper but doesn’t translate well to the screen. The script of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was on the Black List and writer/director Tom Gormican somehow managed to convince Nicolas Cage to play a fictionalized version of himself. The result is a wildly entertaining & hilarious action-comedy that keeps the laughs coming from start to finish.
The premise is simple but appropriately meta, with Cage playing a cash-strapped, down on his luck actor who longs to get a role of a lifetime that would invigorate his career. The scene at the Chateau Marmont with a cameo of David Gordon Green who directed Cage in JOE (replacing Quentin Tarantino) is a classic Nic Cage moment.
The role he wishes for eludes him, but he gets a once-in-a-lifetime offer of a million bucks for attending a birthday party of a wealthy super fan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). One must clearly be desperate to ever take such an offer, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Soon Cage is jetted off to Javi’s clifftop mansion in Mallorca, Spain. The first encounter between Cage and Javi is such a hoot thanks to the spot-on casting of two charismatic actors who are wonderfully well-matched.
Apparently, Pascal is a huge Nic Cage fan in real life which makes his wide-eyed wonderment and fan-boying seem genuine. Despite Cage’s initial reluctance, he and Javi soon become BFFs as they share a mutual love for well, Nic Cage. But the wild, crazy adventure weekend takes an even wackier turn when Cage gets recruited by CIA agents who suspects Javi is a notorious drug lord involved in a kidnapping shown at the beginning of the movie. Gormican is able to mix humor with genuine tension as Cage thinks Javi is as dangerous as Vivian makes him out to be.
With hundreds of movies on his credits, surely Cage has played a few spies, but I doubt any of them is this hilarious. I like Tiffany Haddish’s spunk which she puts to good use as the CIA operative Vivian. British comedienne Sharon Horgan and Lily Sheen (who’s no stranger to being a celebrity kid as she is Kate Beckinsale & Michael Sheen’s daughter) also have some memorable moments as Cage’s wife and daughter.
But my fave scenes are no doubt the ones between Cage and Pascal whose bromance deserves its own franchise. The scene inside Javi’s Nic Cage ‘mini museum’ is as hilarious as in the trailer, the chemistry between them is off the charts! The best Cage’s co-star is also Nic Cage himself, that is his CGI-ed 90s version. This isn’t the first time he has played dual roles, and he reportedly almost turned this movie down.
Well, I’m glad he didn’t as Massive Talent lives up to its name, and despite the absurdity of it all, it wasn’t a mockery of the actor. On the contrary, writers Gormican and Kevin Etten clearly pay a loving homage to the actor while spoofing some of his work in an amusing fashion.
The plot isn’t immune from clichéd slapstick action-adventure tropes, but Gormican manages to inject some creativity into his storytelling style. The pacing also works well and at 1 hour 46 minutes, it never outstays its welcome. I’ve enjoyed Cage’s more subdued, reflective performance in Pig recently, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun watching him being his self-deprecating, unhinged self. Massive Talent is such a rollicking good time and stands as my fave comedy of the year so far.
Nic Cage is back, baby… not that he’s ever gone anywhere.
Have you seen The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent? I’d love to hear what you think!