The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022)
Director: Tom Gormican
Writers: Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris, and Tiffany Haddish
Review: In one hundred years of cinema, there’s never been an actor quite like Nicolas Cage. Through his work, one can experience both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows cinema has to over us. All while he screams from the top of his lungs with an overacting style that is uniquely his. It’s been debated for years as to whether the guy is a genius or batshit insane. Rumors of him acting with a voodoo doll taped to his chest, spending millions on dinosaur bones, and, of course, the memes about stealing the Declaration of Independence only add to the allure. Thus, he is absolutely without a doubt the perfect actor for a movie like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent; one that is ready both to lampoon him and build up his incredible image. And, let me tell you, it’s worthy of such an icon.
My main takeaway from Massive Talent was how remarkably simple it was. From the trailers, you’d think it was a massive action thriller. And, while it dabbles in that, it’s mostly a character study for the “character” of Nicolas Cage (which, by the way, happens to be maybe the greatest character we’ve seen Cage play) and his new friend/super fan Javi. We meet Cage at a rough patch in his life and career. Nothing is really going his way. And, he’s just about ready to hang things up. But, he meets a massive fan, played brilliantly by Pedro Pascal, who reignites his love of movies and reminds him of all the good he’s done the world. That’s really what’s at the heart of this movie. It’s a story of friendship and redemption. Everything else is almost a big, self-referential inside joke. Heck, the movie basically comes out and tells you what it wants to be, but couldn’t due to the demands of modern Hollywood. It’s a mid-budget movie about people talking that threw in some action to sell tickets.
And, I hope you’re comfortable with jokes pretty much breaking the fourth wall because that’s heavily featured in this movie. It’s extremely meta. More meta than you’d already think in a movie about Nicolas Cage playing Nicolas Cage. It very often feels as if the characters are writing the script they’re currently living. I loved it. I had a smile on my face the whole time and often laughed out loud at even the smallest gags. And, of course, it’s quite referential to all of Cage’s previous work. I’d love to see an official tally, but, if I had to guess, I’d say it references at least a quarter of his decades long career. Now, do you need to see these movies to understand the joke? No. But, the bigger the fan of Cage you are the more you will enjoy this movie.
Now, all of that being said, Massive Talent isn’t quite a masterpiece. There are a few minor complaints that stuck with me. The plot is extremely predictable. There is a mystery element to it, but all of the clues are so obvious that the audience knows exactly what’s going on way before the characters ever figure it out. It makes a few sequences feel over drawn out and a tad boring. And, honestly, I feel like a lot of that is on the marketing team. In one scene, there’s a lot of drama about what’s behind a certain door. Like, they build it up for a very long time. However, if you’ve seen the trailer, you can probably guess with 95% certainty what it is they’re about to show us. And the relationship between our two friend leads is never in doubt because you’ve seen jokes about the bond between them that haven’t come up yet. So, it sort of negates the intrigue angle of the whole movie. But, then again, maybe that’s all part of the gag. Maybe we’re supposed to just focus on these two friends being friends.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. I left the theater extremely happy. So, definitely a strong recommend from me. It’s just a fun movie going experience. The main thing that’ll stick with me is the friendship angle between Cage and Pascal. It’s rare that you see male friendship portrayed that emotionally honest. I loved it and I thought both actors did an amazing job. I mean that and the glory that is Nicolas Cage. Honored be thy name.
TL;DR: At it’s purest form, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a beautiful tale of male friendship and it is absolutely delightful.
Score: 8/10 (Great)