REVIEW: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)

Nicolas Cage plays an exaggerated version of himself in Tom Gormican’s THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT – Photo: Lionsgate.

Directed by Tom Gormican – Screenplay by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten.

Nicolas Cage is incredible. He’s a legend. This film’s opening states as much. It is true, though. The Academy Award winner may have done a lot of cheaper straight-to-video B-films over the course of more than the last decade, but the star with a cult following has remained a wildly entertaining thespian through it all, and he hasn’t lost a step, like Michael Sarnoski’s Pig, from last year, proved. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent may not ultimately earn Cage as many critical accolades as the aforementioned Sarnoski film did, but it is a great comedic tribute to Cage, as well as a reminder to audiences all around the world that he’s still here, he never went anywhere, and he’s as entertaining as ever.

In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays an exaggerated version of himself, who here is struggling to achieve the kind of resurgence that he, in real life, seems to have ensured. This film’s version of Nicolas Cage, who is haunted by visions of a younger, more energetic, and more successful version of himself, is not only losing faith in his career, but he is also failing to keep up a nice relationship with his daughter (played by Lily Sheen). Somewhat begrudgingly, he accepts the $1 million offer of attending Javi Gutierrez’s birthday party in Spain, as his guest of honor.

Gutierrez (played by Pedro Pascal) is a Nicolas Cage superfan, and he desperately wants to have Cage read the screenplay he has written specifically with him in mind. However, not long after Cage gets off the plane in Spain, he is approached by the CIA, who tells him that Gutierrez has kidnapped a young woman and that they need his help to find her and get her to safety. Nicolas Cage may just be the man for the job.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a mouthful, and, admittedly, the film’s title is a bit much (and probably quite difficult to market). However, the film is not at all too much. Rather it’s one of my favorite comedies of the last few years. It owes a lot to films like Tropic Thunder and the show Entourage (for reasons that should be obvious), but also to a film like I Love You, Man and, of course, Cage’s oeuvre. It’s a buddy-focused meta-comedy (with some action) that allows us to have fun with Cage and his cult persona, while Cage appears to have gleefully embraced this kind of lovable self-parody.

It’s a consistently funny film that, admittedly, includes several jokes that could be considered ‘inside baseball,’ which means that it is a slightly esoteric comedy, which features several jokes that are likely to only be understood by cinephiles or Cage fans. I’ll also concede that people who don’t have a relationship or appreciation of several films in Nicolas Cage’s filmography may struggle to truly appreciate this film. But if you love, or even just like Cage, then this film is sure to only intensify your enjoyment of the celebrated actor.

And the cult icon that is the infinitely meme-able and beloved thespian, Nicolas Cage, appears to have had so much fun with this role. This isn’t the first time he’s accepted self-parody, obviously, as he once appeared in SNL’s once-recurring bit led by Andy Samberg about Nicolas Cage’s type of acting. But this is an entire film dedicated to the exaggerated persona that his more over-the-top roles have created for him, and it’s really nice to see Cage embrace the absurdities of that character with his dual role. Again, he also plays a younger, de-aged, and even more exaggerated version of Cage who appears in visions. Seeing two Cages on-screen at the same time really did make me think of Spike Jonze’s Adaptation, which also features a fantastic dual role for Cage.

But even though Cage is really fun to watch let loose here, I have to say that Pedro Pascal, who is having quite a moment these days with his wildly popular turn as the titular character in the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, almost runs away with the movie. His character is not at all the type of person that Cage suspects he is, or, for that matter, that the CIA in the film thinks he is. Instead, Pascal plays him as this excitable super-fan who’s just happy to be there, but who also refuses to miss this moment to save his favorite actor’s career. Pascal is hilarious and sometimes even adorable with his puppy dog-like eyes.

Other than the film being reliant on the aforementioned ‘inside baseball’ meta or industry jokes and references, I think the one thing that is slightly disappointing is the generic father-daughter story and the CIA action or spy-focused subplot. This is eventually what the third act is focused on, but it is never as fun as the scenes in which Cage or Pascal enjoy Cage’s persona or career, or their character’s friendship.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a consistently funny action bromance meta-comedy that doubles as a loving tribute to Nicolas Cage, as well as his exaggerated on-screen persona. Some of its jokes may be too ‘inside baseball,’ for some, but I, frankly, think it’s one of the most fun comedies of the last few years. I want a sequel!

8.5 out of 10

– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.

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