Andrea’s film review – The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

In this action-packed comedy, Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage, channeling his iconic characters as he’s caught between a superfan (Pedro Pascal) and a CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish). Out in the cinemas next Friday.

Nicholas Cage stars as himself… or at least a version of himself (for example, he doesn’t have a daughter, like in the film, nor is he divorced from a make-up artist). Nick Cage (the character) is a former A-list star who hasn’t really been in the public demand for a while, mainly because he’s made some pretty unwatchable movies lately, most of which have not even been released in the cinema.

It’s hard to separate the actor from the character and clearly the film plays a lot that notion, poking fun at Cage and to a degree at Hollywood itself.

Cage was apparently against the idea of playing himself and he turned down several offers for this film, but eventually agreed as he understood that satire is the ultimate compliment. In fact this is clearly a celebration of Cage’s work rather than just an excuse to mock him as an actor.

The gamble seems to have paid off. The film premiered about a month ago at the SXSW Festival to glorious reviews, getting an almost perfect score on Rotten tomatoes, something of a rarity for Nicholas Cage these days; more than half his filmography of 100 films, barely register on the “tomatometer ® “.

I was less wowed by it, but I guess my indifference to the actor must have played a part in it.

The idea of an actor playing and mocking himself is nothing new. In Being John Malcovich, the “titular” actor played along with the idea that actors are a bit full of themselves (who can forget the scene into Malcovich’s head?). Here Nicholas Cage pushes those boundaries even further, laying bare the harsh reality that he’s now basically mostly a “living meme” from his old glories and he’s just working to pay the bills.

If it all sounds very “meta”, believe me, it is! Though I’m not sure the film is actually as clever as it thinks it is.

Obviously your enjoyment of the film will depend a lot on how much you know (and ever revere) Nicholas Cage, the actor. Constant references to his old films (good and bad) are spread throughout the film, some of them are so obscure that I didn’t even get them myself.

It actually can get a little bit too pleased with itself and not all the jokes hit the marks as they should. Also, after a while quoting from Face/off, Gone in 60 seconds or Leaving Las Vegas can get a bit tiresome.

But luckily there’s a bit more to the film that simply Nick Cage being himself, which otherwise would make it even more unbufferable for those who don’t care about the actor.

This is a buddy action-comedy after all and even though the action is not particularly exciting or much worth talking about, it’s the bromance between Cage and Pedro Pascal that keeps everything afloat.

In fact ironically it’s Pascal, a revelation with great comedic timing (he’s the man behind the mask in The Mandalorian), who pretty much steals the show in every scene he’s in. He plays a rich super-fan who offers Cage $1 million to attend his 40th birthday and then tries to convince him to play in his own script.

There’s a whole plot involving the CIA, a dangerous criminal and Cage finding himself acting up as a secret informant, just like in one of his movies, but if you focus on the actual story everything will really fall apart. It is all really just an excuse for a whole series of gags about the actor and some more or less funny moments with Pascal.

The film should probably be commended for trying something different, but even though there are funny moments, I do think it stretches the joke a bit too thin and ultimately it never really rises much above the level of the material it’s trying to poke fun at.

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is out in the cinemas next Friday.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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