Film Review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a thoroughly entertaining film that’s filled to the brim with laughs, easter eggs, and appreciation for Nicolas Cage. If you’re a fan of the cinematic icon, I can’t imagine you walking away from it with anything less than a huge smile on your face. I, Middle of the Row’s resident Cage acolyte, was certainly satisfied with it. You’re still in for a treat if you’re just a fan of comedies though, as this is possibly the year’s best in the genre thanks to Cage and his brilliant co-star, Pedro Pascal.

Unbearable Weight stars Nicolas Cage as a fictional, exaggerated version of himself; one struggling with a stalled career and a strained relationship with his ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) and daughter (Lily Sheen). Desperate for a new gig – and financial stability – Nic begrudgingly accepts a one million dollar offer to attend the birthday party of an extremely wealthy and excitable fan, Javi (Pascal), who unbeknownst to Cage is a notorious, ruthless criminal in the sights of the C.I.A. Monitoring Javi are Agents Vivian and Martin (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) who recruit Cage to gain Javi’s trust, infiltrate his world, and hopefully rescue a prisoner they believe is being held captive somewhere on Javi’s compound.

As I alluded to earlier, the highlight of Massive Talent isn’t just Nicolas Cage (who is nonstop fun) but the aforementioned thespian and his insanely terrific chemistry with Pedro Pascal. The Mandalorian star and Cage make for one of the best comedy film duos I’ve seen in years. Everytime Cage and Pascal shared the screen (which was a lot) I was either chuckling or laughing out loud. The rest of the cast is great too – Horgan and Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Cage’s agent, in particular – but it’s undoubtedly the phenomenally funny Cage/Javi dynamic that steals the show here.

Well, that and the expectedly wonderful references to Nicolas Cage’s long, wild, and amazing career in Hollywood. Con Air, The Rock, Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off, almost all of his most famous works get a nod or several, and there are even a couple given to his lesser known (but still awesome) features to boot! From the opening shot you can tell that Director Tom Gormican and his co-writer Kevin Etten clearly love the acting legend. That adoration doesn’t mean the film shies away from making jokes regarding Cage eccentricities or professional decisions though, as there are plenty of them. And the actor rolls with it all, delivering a slightly reflective, yet outlandish and constantly delightful performance that exemplifies why he is so beloved by so many.

The only real weak point of Unbearable Weight is the story. It’s totally fine, but nothing more. The entire plot is about as predictable as anything I’ve seen, so it feels flat compared to the dialogue, performances, action, and prettuch everything else. There’s only one aspect of the story I didn’t see coming, and while it is used sparingly, it is incredible. That’s all I’m saying about it though, as it’s probably best experienced without any knowledge of it. Overall, this is a film that lives and dies by its cast, and luckily it’s lead by the aforementioned, stellar pair.

I’m not crowning The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent as the greatest Nicolas Cage movie of all time, but I still had an absolute blast watching it and highly recommend it. It’s a terrific comedy that only gets better the further you have dived into Cage’s filmography, and also gives you even more reason to adore Pedro Pascal. And while it isn’t my personal favorite Nic Cage flick, I most certainly wouldn’t argue against someone who said it was theirs because it has its merits and then some.

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