By Tom Wiles, Third Year, Theatre & Film
Help me out here reader, because for someone who’s review you’re about to painstakingly read, I truly do not know how I feel about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. My initial reaction was one of disbelief, verging on outright hatred. As time passes, however, my feelings mix more than a bartender on Adderall – all the while a strange taste is left in my agape mouth. That taste, reader, is the taste of the mighty Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Cage.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, directed by Tom Gormican follows the fictionalised life of Nicholas Cage, played by Nicholas Cage, if you were unaware. Nicholas Cage is creatively unsatisfied and emotionally negligent of his family (in the movie anyway), leading him to retire from acting. Sporting a fantastic mid-life crisis beard, Cage accepts a meeting with billionaire and Nic-Cage-superfan, Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) before he puts his career to rest. Mystifyingly, Nicholas Cage soon becomes entangled in a CIA operation as a spy in a twisted kidnapping case.
If you couldn’t tell from the all-too-revealing trailer, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’s entire selling point is Nicholas Cage - the actor, alongside his mythic status within the public sphere since the 90s. Leading me to inevitably question “If you took Nicholas Cage away from this film, what would be left?”, which in some convoluted way, might just be the point?
Swiftly returning to the draw of Nicholas Cage, this movie makes an absurd amount of reference to the actor - you can hardly breathe before the word “nouveau shamanism” is crammed far past your now-swollen tonsils. And that, my dear reader, is the inevitable downfall of a movie such as this one – a love letter to one specific person loses its meaning if read to a sold-out crowd at 02 Academy. The comedy and lustre of ‘just having Nicky Cage sitting around self-referencing’ gets tired very quickly, made even quicker when every single character can’t help but emotionally combust when Nicholas Cage is within a ten-mile radius. It’s ridiculous to the point of parody – which in some convoluted way, might also be the very point.
The script is, I imagine, what would happen if you left me at the age of 13 in a room filled with Nicholas Cage films, and access to Twitter, Letterboxd, and some especially sugary Vimto. What I mean by this is that the majority of jokes here are undisputedly cringe-worthy, the plot is nonsensical and almost every character is vastly underwritten next to Nicholas Cage and “Nicky”, a younger hyper-realistic hallucination of Nicholas Cage who torment Nicholas Cage (I’m baffled too don’t worry).
I can only remember a handful of moments in which I genuinely laughed, and most of that was thanks to the scene-chewing performance of Pedro Pascal as the seemingly aloof but entirely earnest Javi. Javi and Nicholas’ relationship is hilarious and sweet the moment the second (and best) act begins. It’s a crying shame that the scene of Javi “sacrificing” himself so that Nicholas Cage can climb a wall was featured entirely in the film's trailer because, with context, that had me howling.
I simply cannot pin down how I feel about this film. For every positive point there are about five negative ones, and as a whole I found the experience pretty unmemorable other than a select few quotes. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is as much a parody as it is a love letter to one of Hollywood’s (and indie’s) most iconic actors. It may even be a parody of a parody for all I know. One thing is for certain, my dear reader – I have well and truly been Nicky f#####g Cage’d.
Featured Image: IMDB
What did you think of the new Nicholas Cage vehicle?