After a string of successful independent features like Mandy, Color Out of Space, and Pig, superstar Nicolas Cage is truly back (not that he ever left) in the gut-busting comedy, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Director Tom Gormican’s latest is a wonderfully meta tale of male friendship and fatherhood that will pull at your heartstrings as much as it will trigger your funny bone.
In The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Nicolas Cage plays a fictionalized version of himself that is unable to land a starring role, connect with his estranged family, and adequately pay off his debts. When the famous actor receives a million dollar offer to attend the birthday party of the affluent Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) off the coast of Spain, Cage must relive his “glory days” in order to make a quick buck. Though, this expedition of retrospection turns dire when Cage is recruited by the CIA to spy on Javi, who just so happens to be a ruthless drug lord.
However, as Nic and Javi mention in the film, this narrative is only a hook to draw in general audiences. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a surprisingly self-reflective buddy comedy at its core, and a riotous one at that. Cage is given the opportunity to be his wild and neurotic self thanks to a script that is self-aware without ever mocking the actor’s storied history. His conversations with Nicky, the younger 1990s version of himself, explore the vanity that comes with the acting profession and how one must conquer their own selfishness to form meaningful relationships. These scenes also bring a playful duality to Cage’s performance and results in some of the best jokes of the feature.
However, Gormican’s balancing act of sincerity and absurdity would not be possible without Pedro Pascal, who potentially gives the performance of his career as Javi. Much like his co-star, Pascal pulls from every period of his career for the role of Javi, from the menacing and brooding (Narcos, The Mandalorian) to the charming and playful (Wonder Woman 1984). Utilizing his past roles, Pascal is able to bring both a golden retriever and murderous energy to Javi, which makes his character hilariously unpredictable and occasionally steal the show from Nicolas Cage. His dopey reactions to Cage’s antics are perfectly timed and foster a camaraderie that is the backbone of the film.
The character focused high jinks between Nic and Javi are so fruitful that the plot heavy third act weighs down what could have been a comedy masterpiece. Nevertheless, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is one of the best films of the year thanks to near perfect comedic timing, well-placed meta commentary, and Nic Cage fully embracing his neurotic nature.
The Silver Lining
While the majority The Unbearable Weight Massive Talent‘s humor revolves Nicolas Cage’s career and his relationship with Javi, there’s a number of witty remarks for the most avid of cinephiles. From playful puns on classical Hollywood stars to running gags about German expressionist cinema and family flicks alike, Kevin Etten & Tom Gormican’s script is as much a love letter to the history of cinema as it is an ode to Nicolas Cage.
SXSW 2022 official selection, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, opens in theaters everywhere on April 22nd.