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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review - a very funny meta-comedy | reviews, news & interviews

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review - a very funny meta-comedy

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review - a very funny meta-comedy

Nicolas Cage is delightful in self-ironicising mode

Nicolas Cage as "Nicolas Cage"Lionsgate

At a well-attended London press screening of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, there were, as might be expected, knowing chortles from Nicolas Cage-oscenti when specific films from his canon were either inserted or referenced – there were at least 18 of them listed in the closing credits from the hundred or so he has made in total.

And yet the appeal of this action comedy is far more general than that. The script, by director Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, definitely has enough comic intent – and our hero himself has enough self-ironicising lightness – to propel a compulsively switchbacking wacko plot and win the viewer over.

The central character "Nic Cage" is a fictionalised version of Cage himself (a “highly neurotic anxiety-ridden version of me” as the star has called him in interviews). For the purposes of the plot, he accepts an invitation to appear at the birthday bash of an obsessed – and puppyishly adoring – superfan Javi Gutierrez, played by Game of Thrones' Pedro Pascal. Cage then finds out that this fan is, according to the CIA, a dangerous criminal. So a pair of CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) recruit him. Cue “action comedy” with a host of special effects.

Unbearable Weight is very “meta”. Nearly 50 years have now passed since Truffaut’s Day for Night (and for that matter Jonathan Culler’s Structuralist Poetics), and here we are again with a film which has a lot to say about films and filmmaking – with bells on. It turns out that Gutierrez isn't really hosting a party at all, but wants to make a film with Cage in it. And the meta-devices keep surfacing, such as the summoning up of “Nic”, a beardless alter ego, also played by Cage, who appears for the occasional sports car ride or dust-up or feisty interior monologue (pictured below, Pascal and Cage).

The chemistry between the two lead characters and unlikely buddies works well throughout, as does Cage’s interaction with his fictionalised family. His eye-rolling, seen-it-all-before wife Olivia is a great role for Catastrophe’s Sharon Horgan. Their daughter Addy, played by Lily Mo Sheen, the real-life daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen, is a lively role that allows Cage to show some well-observed takes on the challenge of being a dad (pictured below, Horgan, Sheen, and Cage).

An interesting question here is whether Cage will add to his fan base with this movie. The answer is yes, but only up to a point. Perhaps the problem with Cage is that whereas he is a totally engaging actor, it will only be the obsessive fan who wants to see him in every cinematic context he chooses to inhabit.

I can only speak for myself. I certainly enjoyed The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. But, seriously, will it make me want to seek out Cage's 2023 offering, Renfield, a Dracula-based “dark fantasy horror-comedy”? Er, not a chance.

@sebscotney

 

It has enough comic intent to propel a compulsively switchbacking wacko plot

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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