“That must be what it’s like to be a Nick Cage superfan,” I thought to myself during one particular scene of The Unbearable Weight of a Massive Talent, aka the actor’s latest film.
If you’ve seen any of the trailers for the movie, you’ll know which scene I’m talking about. This is the one where Javi Gutierrez – played by The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal – shows Nick Cage his, well, his vast collection of Nick Cage memorabilia. Since those From gold Face/Off guns and Mandy’s chainsaw, to a Con Air script and even a Nick Cage sequin pillow, Javi’s exhibit is definitely a sight to behold.
Usually, I’d consider such a collection a bit creepy or borderline obsessive, even if it fits with the film’s tongue-in-cheek exploration of Nick Cage’s illustrious acting career. Still, for some reason, I found myself smiling as I watched Javi walk Cage through the assembled pieces, while pondering the thought with which I opened this article.
And it’s a strange feeling that I experienced. Not because I’m dead inside, but – and this may shock you, given that I’m a journalist who covers movies for a living – because I’ve never seen a Nick Cage movie before.
I’ll give you a moment to lift your jaw off the ground. You read that right: I never watched a Nick Cage movie in my lifetime. And I wasn’t ashamed to admit it.
That is, until I watch The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Because, whether by divine intervention, the movie’s heartwarming tribute to Cage as an actor and a person, or simply because of his enjoyment, I’m now determined to catch as many Nick Cage movies as he humanly is. possible.
Take the bunny out of the box
Alright, I’ll preface the rest of this article by saying I lied. Somewhat, at least. I saw Nick Cage deliver stunning performances as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass in 2010 and Spider-Man Noir in 2018 super hero movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In my mind, however, I don’t consider these films to be definitive Nick Cage. He’s not the lead in either movie, so they technically don’t count as me watching a Nick Cage movie.
Moreover, I know everything about those Nick Cage memes and famous movie quotes. I’m also familiar with his movies, ranging from fan favorites like Con Air, The Wicker Man, and Face/Off, to lesser-known indie movies like Pig and Color Out of Space.
Yet I never felt compelled to attend one or more of his films. It’s not out of disrespect – clearly, Cage is a talented person. Simply put, there are thousands of other movies I’ve wanted to watch instead, like the latest marvel movie or an old Christmas classic like It’s a Wonderful Life. Sure, I could have taken the time to watch a Nick Cage movie, but I didn’t.
The unbearable weight of massive talent, however, changed that. And, clearly, I missed something. On many.
Before we go any further, a brief synopsis of the film: the metaphysical action-comedy stars Nick Cage as a satirical, failed version of himself struggling to balance his personal and professional life. His ex-wife and daughter are tired of his lack of family commitment, while his lack of acting opportunities has led to spiraling debt.
In desperation, Cage reluctantly accepts a million dollar offer to attend Pascal’s Javi, a billionaire and Cage superfan’s birthday party. However, it won’t be long before Cage gets more than he bargained for – with the actor finding himself embroiled in a CIA-led plot to rescue someone’s kidnapped daughter from arms dealer Javi. supposedly notorious.
Suffice it to say, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a Nick Cage fan’s dream. There are numerous references to his previous roles, over-the-top acting on Cage’s part, and a touching story that doesn’t add anything new but feels enriched by Cage’s presence.
It also helps that Cage seems to be having an enjoyable time portraying a fictionalized version of himself. Cage turned down the role three times before writer-director Tom Gormican convinced him to take it by writing Cage a personal letter. Gormican’s determination has paid off, as Cage is in great shape; its eclectic cast of actors on full display throughout the film’s one-hour, 40-minute runtime. It might be a no-brainer, but no one else could have played a parody version of Cage like the man himself does – and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is all the better for it.
Tired, wired and worthy of appreciation
Movies that put their stars in ridiculous situations are ones that regularly pique my interest. And boy, does The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent go to some surreal but laugh-out-loud places.
What about the fact that Cage is coerced by the CIA into helping them lead a rescue operation from the heart of a criminal gang? Or that Cage and Javi take LSD, become paranoid about being followed, and embark on a hilarious mission to escape their supposed pursuers? What about Cage disguising himself as the Italian mob boss to infiltrate a rival gang? Or – and this is the weirdest and funniest of the lot – Cage kissing a younger, imaginary version of himself from his Wild at Heart days?
These are just four examples of how pleasantly silly The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is, and yet Cage accepts them all; delivering wonderful performances in every scene as if it was the last time he would play. He puts his heart and soul into all of them, and as someone who isn’t a die-hard Nick Cage fan, his performance got me thinking. If he gives 100% in a movie that makes fun of him, how good is he in other roles, no matter how serious, dramatic, or comedy-focused?
Caring about your audience
It’s not just Cage’s acting career — or his job, as he regularly describes it — that has made him such a popular figure among moviegoers. By all accounts, he is one of Hollywood’s most charitable stars, donating millions of dollars and supporting various good causes.
He is also a family man. Cage turned down roles in The Matrix and Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings (per People.com) to help raise her son Weston in the late 1990s and early 2000s — a real-life event that seems to have somewhat influenced the plot of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
By his own admission, Cage is also well aware of his messianic status for Cage-ophiles. He’s into Nick Cage memes and self-deprecating jokes (like recently Interview with the New York Times revealed). And, after a recent Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) involving the actor and his fanbase went viral at how wholesome it was, it’s clear that the affection and respect between Cage and his followers goes both ways.
As an outsider, I can definitely see the appeal of being a Nick Cage fan, as well as the mythos that surround him. He’s an actor who gives his all in every movie he stars in, whether it’s a blockbuster, indie, or B-movie to help pay off his debts. He is an eloquent person with an interesting take on a subject or a crazy story to tell. He is a selfless person with a good heart and good morals. And, based on the relationship he has with his fans, he doesn’t take that support for granted.
It’s not often that a movie can completely change my opinion of someone, but The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent did a lot to turn me into a devoted follower of Nick Cage. If nothing else, I’ll definitely watch a few more of his films before making a concrete decision. The question is, which one should I watch first?
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has now been released in theaters around the world.