The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
A hysterical, absurd & mind-blowing buddy-comedy, that celebrates one of the best actors. It might not be for everyone but it is beautifully crafted & acted!
Genre: Action / Comedy / Drama
Director: Tom Gormican
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Hadish, Sharon Horgan, Lily Mo Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris, Paco León, Alessandra Mastronardi & Ike Barinholtz.
Run Time: 107 min.
US Release: 22 April 2022
UK Release: 22 April 2022
German Release: 16 June 2022
I am a huge Nic Cage fan, growing up with his movies in my youth, even sharing my first kiss during a TV airing of Con Air, so I was naturally looking forward to this bizarre celebratory picture of him. Although to tell the truth, I also was somewhat worried because this could have gone sideways very easily. However, I am happy to report that Gormican’s project turned out even better than it had any right to be. This flick is so unconventional, funny plus meta that it needs multiple viewings! It even took me a while to bring this review to paper. Nick Cage’s successful days as an actor are pretty much counted for, as he is only able to catch menial B-movie roles. When his agent offers him $ 1 million to appear as the guest of honour at a billionaire's birthday party, Nick quickly finds himself caught between a superfan and a CIA agent. Directed and co-written by Tom Gormican, the plot's premise is the depiction of Cage’s character as a sort of popular internet meme version of himself, who learns humility, in addition to the value of family, through bonding with a rich super fan, while staying on his premise in Spain. If this sounds strange to anyone, it’s because it definitely is an unusual narrative. However, Gormican put so much heart and respect for the lead actor into the script, that it never feels like the focal point is to ridicule him. The narrative is also very self-aware of its surrealness, using it to its benefit.
The story is best when it focuses on the blossoming friendship between the fan Javi and Nick, who share a passion for cinema, thus slowly opening up to one another about doubts in their lives, as well as regrets. The icing on the cake, that is this buddy-comedy, comes during outlandish, drug-induced trips the duo makes, including an intervention by the CIA, who kidnap Cage and convince him to spy for them. I don’t want to say anymore, as it would only spoil this cinematic experience.
The third act sadly feels a little out of tune with the rest of the script, as the action-packed ending didn’t correlate with the previous atmosphere of the film, seemingly having been added to please a more generic crowd. It would have served the picture better, without that finale. Ironically it also serves as a meta moment, as a similar scenario was discussed between Javi and Nick, during one of their ideas for a cinematic project.
Nicolas Cage plays an extremely neurotic version of himself, as well as, a younger imaginary version he calls Nicky. Cage didn’t want to be in this movie at first, he declined the offer several times and it is clear why. To appear in a film where one has to play himself or at least some sort of version of himself dreamed-up by fans, can seem pretty egotistical. If this would have been any other actor, the film would have probably bombed, yet Nicolas Cage takes his role with huge confidence; making fun of himself and taking the story with a lot of humour. This makes for an incredibly entertaining viewing experience.
Pedro Pascal appears as Javi Gutierrez, a Nick Cage super-fan in addition to being a billionaire, who pays Nick one million dollars, to appear on his birthday. Realising that his favourite actor is in a rut, and considering quitting his career, he pushes him to open up, kickstarting their friendship. Pascal’s rendition is fantastic, he is incredibly likeable to the point that the audience doesn’t care when gruesome rumours start making the rounds, considering his persona. His chemistry with Cage is gorgeous.
Tiffany Haddish as CIA agent Vivian Etten has a limited role in Massive Talent, thus feeling very exchangeable, yet ultimately does a good job for what she was given. This isn’t much of a criticism though, as the main focal point lies in Nick and Javi’s close relationship.
Finally, Lilly Mo Sheen and Sharon Horgan appear as daughter Addy Cage and ex-wife Olivia Henson respectively. Both add humanity to Cage’s neurotic character, as well as humility. Nick, who is so self-absorbed in his career, overlooks the neglect he is giving his family and it is through them that he re-evaluates life. Sheen was very credible as Cage’s daughter; both played well off each other.
Underlining the celebration of Nic Cage, is the cinematography, capturing one-to-one re-enactments of scenes from Cage’s previous flicks. At the same time, it creates something new, by using sundrenched scenery shots, which could have been used in vacation resort advertisements, and implementing absurdly comedic segments or chase scenes. In other words, the camera work is good, submitting completely to the storytelling.
Effect-wise; the de-ageing to create the imaginary character of Nicky looks superb, modelled after a late-night talk show appearance by Nicolas Cage, in the early 90s. Then there are the action segments at the end, which were wonderfully helmed as well.
Verdict: This was one of the hardest reviews I ever wrote, just because the movie left me speechless, unable to find words to describe what I experienced at cinema. Tom Gormican did a terrific job not only directing but also co-writing the script, which contains so much homage and love for Nicolas Cage's work and himself as a person, it is simply a pleasure to watch. The comedy is on point, however, it betrayed its code a little by adding a big action scene at the end. The bromance between Nick and Javi is not only well written, that dynamic works because of the brilliant chemistry between Cage and Pedro Pascal. Both gave everything they had and, especially Nicolas Cage who needed to play an extravagant version of himself, convinced on all levels. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an experience that needs to be seen in cinema and a definitive 8.5 out of 10.
Are you a Nicolas Kim Coppola fan? Did you enjoy this cinematic celebration of Cage? Leave a comment to let me know. Thank you for reading!