The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Film Review

★★★★

Directed by: Tom Gornican

Written by: Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Hogan

Film Review by Robert Stayte



Whilst Nicolas Cage has had a recent comeback, he has not totally shrugged off the comedic image that the internet has given him. And it took a long time, but finally a mainstream comedy has been made that decides to make that the central premise. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent seems like a gift-wrapped piece of humour, but an idea like that could fall apart if handled poorly. Luckily, the writers and Cage himself make this idea fun and clever.

Nick Cage (Nicholas Cage) is invited to an island owned by rich fan Javi (Pedro Pascal), in a job that he takes due to needing to pay debts and hitting a dry spot in his career. Javi turns out to be involved in criminal activity and Cage is accosted by the CIA, who ask him to become a mole in order to save the kidnapped daughter of Spain’s president. This involves befriending Javi, who has big ideas about wanting to do a film with him.

Massive Talent goes for a number of different genres, the meta narrative, the movie satire, the buddy comedy, the crime comedy, even a family comedy drama with Cage’s wife and daughter. These elements blend together better than expected because of the central anchor being on Cage and Javi’s growing relationship, which thanks to the chemistry between Nicholas Cage and Pedro Pascal, feels genuine and offers a lot of funny moments. The meta-aspects are well done too, as fiction and reality (and our reality) blend together in some unexpected ways.

And despite the humour on display, which does get varied (some being just dialogue and others being references), there is a lot of genuine heart as well. Cage’s family arc, although cliched, is still nicely handled, as is the friendship between Cage and Javi. It’s got a lot of love for movies and acting, rather than feeling like an excuse to mock Nicholas Cage. It makes fun of Cage’s image through this fictional version of himself yet clearly has love for him as an actor and gives him the opportunity to show that whilst he might be known for dramatic or just OTT acting, he is legitimately great at comedy, whether it be in dialogue or physical acting. The brief inclusions of “Nicky”, his imaginary friend, also gives him the opportunity to act opposite himself and contains maybe the funniest and weirdest moment in a Cage film recently.

Tom Gornican does a decent job helming the film, it’s not amazingly well shot but he knows how to keep it moving and not be bogged down, as well as manage the tonal tightrope and even pulling off some action scenes. There are a couple of awkward interjections early on that feel out of place when we don’t know the full context, not to mention the runtime does sometimes feel longer than 100 minutes, though this is more of a general issue than because any scenes are too long. Lastly, the acting from everyone else is pretty good, from Pedro Pascal being naturally funny to Sharon Hogan being a convincingly frustrated wife to Cage.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is both an enjoyable comedy and a good treat for Cage fans that thankfully avoids either being a mockery or a collection of references. It might not be the craziest film you could make with this premise, but it is more sincere and well written than it could have been under the wrong hands.


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