“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” is a movie starring Nicolas Cage, written by Nicolas Cage superfans (Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican, who also directs) about Nicolas Cage, in which co-star Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian”), who is a Nicolas Cage superfan in real life, plays a Nicolas Cage superfan who has written a movie he wants Nicolas Cage to star in.
But this Nicolas Cage movie isn’t just for superfans. Because Cage has starred in over 100 movies in his four decades in Hollywood, it’s really just a movie for movie lovers like him. Its flaws — chiefly a flimsy plot and lack of directorial confidence from Gormican, who has directed only one comedy, the critically panned “That Awkward Moment,” six years ago — can be forgiven by the fact that it’s not trying to impart some deep thesis about Cage or his one-of-a-kind career.
It understands that Nicolas Cage can’t be understood; he can only be enjoyed. And this movie is very enjoyable.
The “Nick Cage” we meet in this movie seems fairly normal compared to Cage in real life, despite regular hallucinations featuring the “Wild at Heart”-era Cage who performed kung fu and took off his shirt on a talk show, saying “I’m just going to have a blast!”
Instead of five ex-wives ranging from Patricia Arquette to Elvis’ daughter, this Cage seems to only have one, who is not a celebrity (Sharon Horgan). Instead of a son he named “Kal-El” after Superman, this Cage has a daughter named Addy (Lily Sheen, the daughter of Michael Sheen and Kate Beckinsale).
This Cage is considering giving up acting and needs money, so he agrees to entertain a rich fan (Pascal) who also happens to be wanted by the U.S. government. A CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish) intercepts Cage, turning him into a spy.
The movie is less interesting than the career of Nicolas Cage, but it’s very funny at moments, and Cage and Pascal have great chemistry. It wouldn’t work if it weren’t for Cage’s performance. He’s never self-indulgent while playing himself, knowing what the joke is but not acting like he’s in on it.
This is why we love Nicolas Cage: No matter what movie he’s in, he doesn’t pretend he’s better than the material or the moviegoers. He just loves movies and he’s always game, and doesn’t treat this movie like it’s the part of a lifetime. Playing Nicolas Cage is, in the end, just another role to Nicolas Cage.