It can’t be easy to be Nicolas Coppola. The pressure from his surname alone led him to the Cage moniker. His career is as wide as it has been long. Iconic Action flicks, Oscar-Winning dramas, throwaway popcorn flicks, and direct-to-video-dollar-bin movies. It’s hard for most of us to even imagine “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” that Nicolas Cage has to endure on a daily basis.
Without knowing him personally it’s hard to say how realistic the film’s version of Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) is. Based on some of his delightfully manic performances and some of the more eccentric news articles, it may be closer to the truth than fantasy. As the film opens, Cage is struggling artistically, financially, and mentally. To him, his career is now riding on catching a specific role that will get him back into the public eye. (Not that he’s gone anywhere.) His desperation bleeds through every aspect of his life, leading to a very public and over-the-top impromptu audition with David Gordon Green.
It’s no surprise that he doesn’t get the role. This failure coupled with further self-inflicted public humiliation at his teenage daughter’s (Lily Mo Sheen) birthday party has Cage hitting rock bottom. With no other options, he begrudgingly agrees to a personal appearance gig his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) has proposed. The gig is a birthday party appearance at billionaire and Nick Cage super-fan, Javi Gutierrez’s (Pedro Pascal) Spanish villa. Like all true super-fans, Javi is awkward, annoying, and has a spec script he hopes Cage will star in. It’s the recipe for a horrible weekend, but it doesn’t take long until this odd couple is soon bonding over their mutual love of cinema and what is clearly the 3rd greatest film of all time. This alone could have led to a mature narrative about two very different men bonding over their similarities, but as the lead characters later realize, a film that is accessible needs to have something for everyone, including an action-packed 3rd act, even if it feels tacked on.
The most interesting thing “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” achieves is feeling fresh and familiar at the same time. The framework plot is tried (tired?) and true. We’ve seen this movie before, but never quite like this, even if it both verbally references and visually recreates iconic scenes from previous Cage films. It’s a surreal and often hilarious experience. The bones of the narrative are dusty, but the over-the-top performances by both Cage and Pascal breathe new life into them. The mileage of this very specific humor will vary depending on the viewer’s exposure to cinema, past Cage films, and stomach for satire. It’s hard to say how well this movie will stand the test of time, but for anyone mildly amused by Cage and his diverse career, this is a must-see movie.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent