In the vein of Bruce Campbell’s delightfully zany My Name is Bruce in which the star played himself in a bizarre adventure, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent puts the spotlight on Nicolas Cage in a surprisingly poignant meta-comedy-action-thriller romp.
Cage has long been something of a meme, with his loud and outlandish style regularly imitated and his films often quoted – “not the bees!” – but people forget how good an actor he actually is. The man is an Academy Award winner! The Unbearable Weight allows him to flex those muscles again, but in a charmingly self-aware, and indeed self-deprecating, fashion. Playing a fictionalised version of himself, he is a broken and debt-riddled has-been haunted by his younger Wild at Heart era self. When the opportunity to make a quick $1 million comes up in exchange for being the guest of honour at a wealthy fan’s birthday party, it’s a no-brainer – but Cage soon becomes mixed up with the CIA, arms dealers, LSD, and a private screening of Paddington 2. It’s all totally wacky and wildly inventive in a way that only Nic Cage could pull off, and yet, it is absolutely full of heart.
Oddly poignant and moving, The Unbearable Weight is a love letter not just to Nic Cage and his many cult films, but to fandom in general. The sweet bromance between Cage and superfan Javi (a pitch-perfect Pedro Pascal) is so delightfully warm-hearted that it’s hard not to get swept up in its charm, thanks in large part to the two leads’ impeccable chemistry. The rest of the cast are great, too – Sharon Horgan is, as ever, terrific as Cage’s ex-wife.
But the film is also a surprisingly compelling action-thriller, with superbly bombastic setpieces and excitement, particularly in the action-packed final act. Here is one of those rare films that has everything, while also being so totally unique and oozing its own identity. How a film can go from a zany comedy about Nicolas Cage to a buddy adventure to an espionage thriller, and nail every beat, is a tremendously rare feat. Bravo to director Tom Gormican, who also co-wrote with Kevin Etten.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is the definitive Nicolas Cage experience, and a heartfelt study of friendship and fandom.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is on digital release from 8 July, followed by Steelbook, 4K UHD, Blu-ray & DVD releases from 11 July courtesy of Lionsgate