Film review: ‘THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT’, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The fun, quirkily amusing but not hilarious comedy, The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent plays on the strange, ironic cult surrounding actor Nic Cage while also (tentatively) parodying the Hollywood movie system.

Cage plays a semi-fictionalised version of himself, a workaholic actor whose relentless and often fruitless pursuit of movie roles has led to divorce from wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan, Catastrophe) and has alienated him from his teen daughter, Addy (Lily Sheen, daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen). With his professional and personal life seemingly gurgling down the toilet, he accepts a $1 million offer to attend the birthday of wealthy Spaniard Javi (Pedro Pascal) and stay at his sprawling villa in Mallorca. There, however, Cage’s situation turns into, well, a Nic Cage film as CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) inform him that his host is a drug cartel boss who has kidnapped a politician’s daughter and they need Cage, of all people, to save her.  What begins as a Charlie Kaufman-esque examination of a crumbling star soon turns into a silly but likeable crime caper buddy comedy.

At the heart of the film is not just Cage’s relationship with his family but a newfound friendship with the possibly misunderstood Javi who is also an obsessive movie fan and dreams of having Cage star in the film he has written.  The two bond over a mutual love of not only Nic Cage films but also classics like The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and surprisingly enough, Paddington 2.

While the film diverts from being a complete satire on the Nic Cage phenomenon, it still contains plenty of Cage meta references and images from his movie past.  He’s even visited by a crazy younger version of himself who lectures him on the need to be a wild man before punching him in the face.

Unfortunately, while the Cage meta gags are amusing at first, they become repetitive and a little obvious.  Similarly, the satire of action movie cliches works well initially but the film softens its satric edge as it goes along and increasingly resembles a generic action comedy.  Some of that comedy is also pretty broad.  At one point Nic and Javi drop acid and goof around like something out of a Harold and Kumar film.  Still, a lot of this film is enjoyably silly.  That’s due as much to Pascal as Cage.  Pascal’s innocent, wide-eyed adoration of Cage and his dubious cinematic repertoire is often genuinely funny and the chemistry between them is both weird and charming.

This oddball comedy is energetic and amiable enough to warrant a viewing from Cage fans and possibly the unconverted but there’s still a gnawing sense that the chance for a more insightful and acerbic dissection of the cult of Cage and of movie stardom has been lost.

Nick’s rating:     

Genre: Comedy/ Action.

Classification: M.

Director(s): Tom Gormican.

Release date: 21st Apr 2022.

Running time: 107 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.


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