Certified critic on Rotten Tomatoes. Member of the Houston Film Critics Society. Also writes for Bounding Into Comics and GeeksHaveGame.
Fake Laughter is the Best Medicine
Nicolas Cage portrays an exaggerated version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. In the film, Nick Cage (purposely spelled differently in the film) is struggling as an actor. He’s in a crazy amount of debt, he can’t find steady work, and his ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addy (Anna MacDonald) feel like he’s too full of himself to fit them into his life. Nick contemplates retiring from acting altogether and is intending to do so after an awkward $1 million gig of being on an island as the guest of honor at a birthday party.
But the birthday is for a gargantuan Nicolas Cage super fan named Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). Javi and Nick become fast friends, but the CIA abducts Nick one evening and informs him that Javi is actually an arms dealer that is responsible for the kidnapping of the daughter of an anti-crime politician. Nick becomes torn between snitching for the government and seeing where his newfound friendship with Javi goes, which revolves around Nick having the most fun he’s had in years.
What makes The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent so entertaining is the bromance between Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal. The two seem like legitimate best friends and there’s essentially chemistry with the two actors as soon as they meet each other on screen. As Nick Cage, the real Cage is totally self-absorbed as the character. He’s blinded by his own interests and what he has going on in his life to really understand or pay attention to anyone else. The whole world revolves around Nick Cage. Meanwhile, Javi is more humble. He has so much Nicolas Cage memorabilia that his room devoted to him could be considered as a museum or shrine to the Oscar winning actor. The two surprisingly have a lot in common and end up being hilarious together.
The first hour of the film is basically the Cage and Pascal show with the two running around like idiots in the best kind of way. Nick and Javi bond over Paddington 2, possibly making a movie together, and doing acid together. The acid taking sequence in general is probably the funniest part of the film, especially with their uncontrollable paranoia and Pascal’s fake laughing.
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The remaining 47 minutes is devoted to the two men attempting to kill one another. Nick believing that Javi is this guns dealing madman and Javi discovering that Nick has been working with the CIA. The film snowballs further and further into ridiculous territory and you just gobble it up because it’s so great. The R-rated action comedy is loaded with incredibly detailed movie references and Nicolas Cage being funnier than he has ever been.
Pedro Pascal has dabbled in comedy here and there since leaving Game of Thrones and it has never really worked out. He was the best part of The Bubble, which dropped on Netflix earlier this month, but that’s not saying much since the film was so bad. This is the first time Pascal has gotten to showcase his comedic chops in a film that is legitimately funny, surprisingly sentimental, and enormously entertaining from beginning to end.
Throughout the film, Nick Cage argues with Nicky – the younger and more successful version of himself from Wild at Heart. Nicky is basically the devil on Nick Cage’s shoulder as he encourages him to take more risks and do whatever he wants simply because he is Nick freaking Cage. It’s incredible seeing two versions of Cage argue and interact on screen, but it nearly melts your brain from simply being too awesome for our Nicolas Cage admiring brains to process
It certainly seems like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent will have a deeper impact on you if you’re at least somewhat of a fan of Nicolas Cage’s work, but could also be amusing for fans of absurd adult comedies. Pedro Pascal is the humorous wingman we all wish we could have; soft-spoken and yet a priceless factor in the overall ludicrous nature of the film. Meanwhile, Nicolas Cage continues to reign supreme as a talented lunatic at the top of his game. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an outrageous and uproarious expedition into hilarity and absurdity. Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal are an unlikely yet brilliant comical duo that will have you rolling on the sticky movie theater floor with laughter.
© 2022 Chris Sawin