Nicolas Cage is back…not that he really went anywhere, but The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) is a return to form in many ways. This film is a self-referential comedy that pairs Nicolas Cage as a version of himself who agrees to attend a birthday party of superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) for one million dollars. However, Cage soon finds himself tapped by CIA agent Vivan (Tiffany Haddish) to assist in an investigation because she believes Javi is the head of a cartel.
One element of this film that really worked for me is the love of cinema. There are several scenes that allow for Cage and Pascal to really express their love of the medium. As a person who devotes the majority of my time to studying film, writing about film, talking about films, and teaching film, this is a subject that really works for me. While I won’t spoil any of the specifics, I have seen that other fans and critics have opted to focus on the love of one specific underrated film that gets Cage and Pascal’s characters excited over that I agree was fantastic. It literally made me laugh and clap my hands in excitement.
While I was already having a great time, the film decides to add in some heart. Aside from the excellent Bromance developing between Cage and Javi, a major conflict in the film revolves around Cage and Addy (Lily Mo Sheen), his 16-year-old daughter. As a father who just watched his daughter turn 18, I really connected to this aspect of the storytelling. This dynamic truly helps give Cage an emotional connection that is sometimes lacking or feels forced in other comedies.
Lastly, the meta-commentary about the filmmaking process, our relationship with actors and their characters, and the expectations of studios work very well here. Cage – being willing to be the butt of some of the jokes while also defending his career choices – is brave, and it helps build the story. It also reminds the audience of how much talent Cage actually possesses. His style may not resonate with everyone, but there is something to his performances that is undeniable. I am a fan of many of his 90’s movies, and then sporadic performances here and there ever since. However, I’m guilty of quickly dismissing announcements of new Cage movies as schlock or “straight to video” fodder that is not worth my time. Then, I remember films like Pig, Willy’s Wonderland, or Mandy – which I didn’t like, but the world did – and realize the error of my ways. This film serves as a strong reminder to never write Nicolas Cage off completely.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) is a remarkably good time at the movies. It is a solid example of what a studio comedy can be, and I hope inspires studios to not relegate these types of movies to only streaming. Furthermore, Cage deserves to still be above the title. When given good material, he will bring his A-game – and the audience will eat it up. Plus, let’s keep putting Pedro Pascal in everything! The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022) earns the Must See rating.