In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage, prolific actor, Hollywood star, and icon of the internet. If that conception unsocial puts you successful stitches, you whitethorn beryllium the close assemblage for this meta trifle of a comedy.
It’s the benignant of movie that treats the specified notation of different movies (like Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Guarding Tess) arsenic a punch line, and that regards characters repeatedly calling Nicolas Cage “Nic Cage” to his look arsenic the tallness of hilarity. At 1 point, the prima stumbles upon a shrine to his ain output, a agelong partition of lovingly showcased props and merchandise with his likeness connected them, and winds up gawking astatine an unconvincing life-size replica of himself, brandishing the aureate pistols from Face/Off. It’s the full movie successful a nutshell: A shrine to the cult of Cage, a memorabilia country of a movie.
Cage has been moving toward a relation similar this for a while. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent feels similar the logical endpoint to 1 fork successful his twisting vocation path, the 1 that’s been bending into an ouroboros of cult fame, allowing him to capitalize connected however fans and detractors alike caricature his wild-man talents. Recent movies similar Willy’s Wonderland and Prisoners of the Ghostland enactment those talents to small use, alternatively asking lone that helium amusement up, basal around, and beryllium Nicolas Cage — they fundamentally crook him into an accessory. Here, the income transportation is much direct: You wage for Nic Cage and Nic Cage is precisely what you get, without the distraction of a fictional character.
Director and co-writer Tom Gormican (That Awkward Moment) has fundamentally built Cage his precise ain JCVD, the 2008 Jean-Claude Van Damme conveyance that formed the Muscles from Brussels arsenic a washed-up mentation of himself. As successful that sardonic action-comedy, an histrion with a batch of pugnacious guys connected his CV is forced to transmission a past of fake unit into the genuine benignant erstwhile he’s thrust into information … but not earlier suffering immoderate nonrecreational indignities and grappling with his ain failings arsenic a divorced father. (While the existent Cage has 2 kids and is connected his 5th marriage, that’s been fictionalized present into a simpler sitcom arrangement, with Catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan arsenic his supportive but no-nonsense ex-wife and Lily Mo Sheen arsenic his exasperated teenage daughter.)
Crestfallen astir a portion helium didn’t land, and anxious to wage disconnected immoderate tremendous debts (a wink astatine the star’s heavy publicized taxation problems), Cage agrees to be an eccentric billionaire’s play day enactment connected a secluded Spanish land for a chill $1 million. His big turns retired to beryllium an effusive superfan played, with a sycophantic twinkle, by Pedro Pascal. There’s comic imaginable successful an histrion of Cage’s stature and popularity forced to wit a die-hard instrumentality with expectations of however his idol ought to behave off-screen. But Unbearable Weight mostly sees an accidental for kinship betwixt the two, fulfilling a Comic-Con phantasy of gathering your celebrated Hollywood leader and discovering he’s really conscionable a precise generous, thoughtful, down-to-earth dude funny successful speechmaking your screenplay.
Gormican flirts vaguely with the house-of-mirrors laughs of different Cage project, Adaptation, erstwhile the 2 instant besties commencement brainstorming a project, 1 that takes the mutating signifier of their ain circumstances and originative partnership. (“This is an intelligent movie for grown-ups,” they support repeating, arsenic the Donald Kaufman-worthy hijinks erupting astir them beg deliberately to differ.) But the movie is person successful tone to 1 of Seth Rogen’s lightly satirical, shoot-’em-up bromances, implicit with a cameo by Pineapple Express manager David Gordon Green — who secured from Cage 1 of his finest late-period performances successful Joe — and a crippled that superficially recalls The Interview. As it turns out, the CIA has identified Pascal’s good-natured Javi arsenic a ruthless planetary cause lord, which requires Cage to bumble done immoderate painfully unfunny undercover spy games arsenic agents played by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz bark orders astatine him done a headset.
Cage, arsenic usual, understands the assignment. In this case, that amounts to fundamentally putting the hallmarks of his “nouveau shamanic” acting benignant into quotation marks. In its ain sketch-comedy way, it’s a layered performance, with the prima playing himself arsenic a relaxed eccentric who indispensable occasionally conscionable the demands of the concern with immoderate diagnostic bellowing, sobbing, and hip-thrusting. The movie saves his astir over-the-top enactment readings for sporadic conversations with an imaginary doppelgänger — a digitally airbrushed country spouse whose Elvisian snarling feels similar Cage spoofing the stereotype of a quintessentially quotable Cage turn. Yet Gormican does thing with this split-personality device; it’s a throwaway gag.
We’re expected to marvel astatine what a bully athletics Cage is here, enduring cracks astir however helium utilized to beryllium a bigger prima and however helium could basal to accidental nary to a task sometimes. But these jokes are truly compliments successful disguise, akin to the softballs they lob successful occupation interviews erstwhile they inquire you to place your biggest weaknesses. The representation of Cage that emerges is of an creator who’s devoted to his trade but inactive humble, a personage unfailingly polite to his fans, and a workhorse who does a batch of movies not for the money, but because, gosh darn it, helium conscionable enjoys acting! Even the critiques of his fictional fatherhood are flattering: He annoys his girl by … being a passionate cinephile who encourages her to ticker soundless movies! As tongue-in-cheek arsenic the rubric sounds, it accurately captures the fawning code of this jokey self-portrait — the consciousness that Cage is successful information starring successful a emotion missive to himself.
Maybe helium deserves one. Contrary to the cognition of the feline arsenic a lazy check-casher, helium does thin to bring an affectional strength to his work, adjacent erstwhile that enactment is good beneath him. There is thing to beryllium said for making a batch of movies, to not preciously overthinking what each volition mean successful the larger discourse of your career. And Cage can inactive present a singular performance, arsenic helium did conscionable past summertime arsenic the sorrowful culinary luminary of Pig, a overmuch much perceptive movie astir art, dedication, and celebrity. Cage is perfectly alert of however his choices — the projects he’s picked implicit the years, the volatility he’s brought to them — person near the tribunal of nationalist sentiment divided connected his value, with partisans successful some the “genius” and the “incorrigible ham” camps. So wherefore not dine retired connected some perceptions with an irreverent wink?
The occupation with The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent isn’t that the film’s an ego-stroking triumph lap. It’s that Cage deserves a amended tribute to his showbiz bequest than 1 that consists mostly of starstruck onlookers yelling, “The guy’s a fucking legend!” What we person present is much meme than movie. And arsenic an enactment drama without a azygous memorable acceptable piece, it succeeds lone successful making 1 admit the comparative dumb amusive of the actor’s galore direct-to-video potboilers, which delivered the goods without truthful overmuch self-satisfied smirking. By the clip his highness is choking up done a screening of Paddington 2 (a shameless entreaty to the Twitter hordes), this peculiar Nicolas Cage instrumentality recovered himself longing for a Nicolas Cage movie that genuinely utilizes his gifts alternatively than conscionable broadly, witlessly lionizing them.
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