In The unbearable weight of massive talent, Nicolas Cage plays Nicolas Cage, prolific actor, Hollywood star and internet icon. If that concept alone has you in awe, you might be the right audience for this meta-little bit of comedy.
It’s the kind of movie that deals with the mere mention of other movies (like e.g Captain Corelli’s mandolin and guard Tess) as a punch line, and that considers characters repeatedly shouting “Nic Cage” to Nicolas Cage’s face as the pinnacle of hilarity. At some point, the star stumbles across a shrine to his own achievement, a long wall of lovingly displayed props and merchandise with his likeness on it, and finally stares at an unconvincing life-size replica of himself brandishing the golden pistols Face/Off. The whole film is summed up in a nutshell: a shrine to the Cage cult, a memory room in a film.
Cage has been aiming for a role like this for a while. The unbearable weight of massive talent feels like the logical terminus of a fork in his tortuous career path, which has morphed into an ouroboros of cult fame, allowing him to capitalize on how fans and critics alike caricature his wild talents. Recent movies like Willy’s Wonderland and Prisoners of Ghostland Barely use these talents and instead just ask him to show up, stand around and be Nicolas Cage – they essentially make him an accomplice. Here the sales pitch is more direct: you pay for Nic Cage, and Nic Cage is exactly what you get, without the distraction of a fictional character.
Director and co-writer Tom Gormican (That awkward moment) essentially made Cage his own JCVD, Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 2008 vehicle that made the Brussels Muscles appear as a washed-out version of himself. As in this smug action-comedy, an actor with a lot of tough guys on his resume is forced to turn a history of fake violence into real form when he finds himself in danger…but not before suffering some professional humiliation and coming to terms with his own Mistakes as a divorced father. (While the real Cage has two children and is in his fifth marriage, this has been fictionalized into a simpler sitcom arrangement, with catastrophe‘s Sharon Horgan as his supportive but no-nonsense ex-wife and Lily Mo Sheen as his disgruntled teenage daughter.)
Cage is dejected over a role he didn’t get and eager to pay off some enormous debts (a nod to the star’s publicized tax problems). . His host turns out to be an exuberant superfan, played by Pedro Pascal with a sycophantic wink. There’s comic potential in an actor of Cage’s stature and popularity, forced to entertain a die-hard fan with expectations of how his idol should behave off-screen. but Unbearable weight mostly seeing an opportunity for a kinship between the two, fulfilling a comic-con fantasy of meeting your famous Hollywood hero and discovering that he’s actually just a very generous, thoughtful, down-to-earth guy interested in her to read the script.
Gormican vaguely flirts with another Cage project’s mirror-house laugh, adjustment, when the two best friends begin brainstorming a project, one that will take the evolving form of their own circumstances and creative partnership. (“This is a smart adult movie,” they keep repeating, while the Donald Kaufman-worthy jokes that erupt around them purposely disagree.) But the film is slightly closer to one of Seth Rogen’s in spirit satirical, ’em-up bromances, complete with a cameo by Pineapple Express Director David Gordon Green – who snagged one of his best performances of the late period from Cage joe — and a plot that is superficially reminiscent The interview. It turns out the CIA has identified Pascal’s good-natured Javi as a ruthless international drug lord, forcing Cage to agonize through some painfully unfunny undercover spy games while agents played by Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz bark orders at him through a headset.
As always, Cage understands the task. In this case, it boils down to the hallmarks of his “Nouveau shaman‘ Acting style in quotes. In his own sketch-comedy way, it’s a multi-layered performance, with the star playing himself as a laid-back eccentric who occasionally has to meet the demands of the situation with characteristic roars, sobs and hip-butts. The film saves its most over-the-top reads for sporadic conversations with an imaginary doppelganger — a digitally airbrushed co-star whose Elvis growl feels like Cage is skewing the stereotype of a thoroughly quotable Cage twist. Yet Gormican does nothing with this split personality device; it’s a throwaway gag.
We’re meant to marvel at what a good Sport Cage is here, and endure how he used to be a bigger star and how he could endure sometimes saying no to a project. But these jokes are really covert compliments, much like the softballs they praise in job interviews when they ask you to identify your greatest weaknesses. The portrait of Cage that emerges shows an artist dedicated to his craft but still humble, a celebrity ever polite to his fans, and a workaholic who doesn’t make many films for the money, but because he just fucking enjoys acting! Even criticism of his fictional paternity is flattering: he teases his daughter by being… an avid cinephile who encourages her to watch silent films! As tongue-in-cheek as the title sounds, it perfectly captures the flattering tone of this witty self-portrait — the feeling that Cage is actually starring in a love letter to himself.
Maybe he deserves one. Contrary to the guy’s perception of being a lazy check collector, he does tend to bring an emotional intensity to his work, even when that work is well below him. there is something that speaks in favor of making a lot of films in order not to think too much about what each will mean in the larger context of your career. And cage can still pulls off a remarkable feat, as he did as a sad culinary luminary just last summer Pig, a much more sensitive film about art, dedication and celebrity. Cage is acutely aware of how his decisions – the projects he has chosen over the years, the volatility he has brought them – have left the court of public opinion divided about its worth, with supporters in both “genius” and as well as in the “despicable ham”. Warehouse. So why not savor both perceptions with a disrespectful wink?
The problem with The unbearable weight of massive talent Isn’t that an ego-stroking victory lap? It’s like Cage deserves a better tribute to his showbiz legacy than one that’s made up largely of star-loving viewers screaming, “That guy’s a f***ing legend!” What we’ve got here is more meme than movie. And as an action-comedy without a single memorable set piece, it only manages to appreciate the relatively silly fun of the actor’s numerous direct-to-video potboilers, who delivered the goods without so many smug grins. At the time, His Highness chokes on a performance of paddington 2 (a shameless appeal to the Twitter hordes), this particular Nicolas Cage fan found himself longing for a Nicolas Cage film that truly uses his gifts, rather than just broadly glorifying them.
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