Movie review: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Give Nicolas Cage a chance to slap himself in the face, and you know he’ll go full cream pie. So why did director Tom Gormican go for a dark thriller instead of full-on movie star send-up? We can only wonder as we stare into the crater of a leaden satire.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tiffany Haddish, Pedro Pascal
Directed by: Tom Gormican
Running time: 1 mhr 47 mins
By Katherine Monk
Nicolas Cage acts opposite his own personae in a movie that takes a mega take on meta. Starring as a one-time movie star named Nic Cage — an actor who appeared in Moonstruck, The Rock, Leaving Las Vegas and Face/Off — Cage is given a kid glove to slap himself in the face, and he picks up the challenge without so much as a flinch.
Talking about bad agents, and a quest for the ultimate comeback role — “not that I went anywhere” — Cage finds himself floundering in the quagmire of youth-obsessed Los Angeles. He can’t land the big roles he once used to, and now he’s thinking about a move to the sidelines as a secondary character actor playing the “gay uncle” to ingenues.
The only problem is his ego wants more, and it screams its needs as a resurrected Nic Cage from 1990, complete with a mop of long blond hair and a smooth, triangular face that looks stolen from a Byzantine depiction of Christ. The youthful and egotistical “Nicky” demands attention and movie star treatment, but the grown-up sees what all that selfishness has wrought: a dysfunctional relationship with his daughter and ex-wife, as well as a rising mountain of financial debt as a result of living a movie star life, without movie star wages.
…For all the bizarre details and endless references to less-than perfect Cage performances, this movie can’t transcend its own laboured reality.
To prevent financial ruin, Nicolas accepts an offer from a private businessman: A million dollars to attend a birthday party in Spain. All he has to do is play himself. Cage’s misapprehensions about the assignment — such as worries about sexual exploitation and taped karaoke sessions — are supposed to fire up the furnace of humour and take us to an absurdist island of alternate consciousness. Yet, for all the bizarre details and endless references to less-than perfect Cage performances, this movie can’t transcend its own laboured reality.
Even when it switches gears and turns into a movie about making a movie starring Nicolas Cage, it relies too heavily on Cage’s faux alter-ego and his ability to take a nothing scrap of dialogue and make it weirdly interesting. Nic Cage can upstage Nicolas Cage all day long, but it doesn’t mean the audience is getting a full dose of entertainment. It only guarantees we’re getting a lot of Nicolas Cage crammed into a self-aware package that suggests unguarded sincerity, but delivers little more than forced emotion and a shallow reflecting pool of classic cinema.
THE EX-PRESS, June 1, 2022