|5/5/2022 4:35:00 PM|
WELCOME BACK, NICHOLAS CAGE
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (R) is my favorite film and film title of the year so far and for a lot of reasons. It’s got a sharp script, plenty of laughs, a solid cast, great music (extra Amanda points for a Warren Zevon song), it clocks in under two hours, and stars Nicholas Cage… as Nicholas Cage.
Movie Nicholas Cage is not in a good place. He can’t find work. He’s having problems relating to his daughter and he owes a lot of money. (If you recall a few years back, real Nicholas Cage blew his fortune, owed the IRS millions of dollars and had to make bad movies nonstop to get out of debt.) Then movie Cage’s agent (Neil Patrick Harris) tells him he can pocket $1 million if he attends a private party in Majorca. Initially reluctant, Cage agrees and becomes fast friends with his host, wealth businessman and Cage superfan Javi (Pedro Pascal). They bond over their love of movies and Nicholas Cage. The weekend is turning out better than Nick thought it would, when he’s roped into doing espionage by two CIA agents (Tiffany Hadish and Ike Barinholtz).
So now Nicholas Cage has to be more like action star Nicholas Cage, rigging security cameras, fighting, shooting, and driving, so much driving. All this while Nick and Javi try to write the perfect Nick Cage movie. Unbearable takes an ominous turn when Javi’s drug-dealer boss starts doing very villainy things. But it’s nothing you wouldn’t see in your average Nicholas Cage or Liam Neeson movie.
Cage is completely compelling in a role that is much more complicated than you might think as he’s playing several different versions of himself. Cage and Pascal have perfect movie buddy chemistry and Irish actress Sharon Horgan, who I adored in the Amazon comedy Catastrophe, is wonderful as Cage’s ex.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is smart, funny and totally original, even more impressive as it is only writer/director Tom Gormican’s second feature film. I loved it and can’t wait to see what Gormican (and yes, Cage) do next.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: 4 out of 5 Stars
When I came home from the theater, I wondered what was the last Nicholas Cage movie I saw, not including my twice-annual viewing of 1987’s Moonstruck. So I started scrolling Cage’s IMDB filmography, all 110 entries. I had to go back to 2009 and a movie I’d long forgotten called Knowing. I hadn’t heard of most of his recent films, Kill Chain, Primal, 211, Between Worlds, Mandy, Dark, Rage, Joe. Most received dismal reviews and went straight to video. But his most recent film, 2021’s Pig, looked intriguing and had impressive reviews, with most critics raving about Cage’s performance. It was also available on Hulu. Could I watch two Nicholas Cage movies in one day?
In Pig, Cage plays Robin, a renowned chef turned recluse who lives in a remote part of Oregon, with his only companion, a truffle-hunting pig. When the pig is stolen, Robin goes looking for the thief with a reluctant Amir (Alex Wolff), a young businessman who’s been buying Rob’s truffles and selling them at a profit to Portland chefs.
Pig has a bit of a John Wick vibe; both main characters are brooding widowers who are really attached to their pets. but Cage is no Keanu Reeves. He’s unwashed, with a scraggly beard, ill-fitting, old clothes and for most of the movie, a bloody and bruised face. Not exactly eye candy. The actors do have a similar straight-forward, low, clipped delivery, but thankfully there are about 171 fewer dead bodies in Pig than in a Wick film.
As Robin moves about the city, it’s apparent his name still carries some weight in the restaurant world. He eventually encounters Darius (Adam Arkin), a semi-scary guy who knows the whereabouts of Robin’s pig. Cage is in nearly every scene in the movie and delivers a surprisingly endearing and heartfelt performance, much more subdued than the average Cage character. While a couple of the scenes felt like they belonged in a different movie, I enjoyed watching Robin and Amir’s friendship evolve and I became totally invested in Robin reuniting with his pig. If these two films are any indication, I won’t be waiting another 10 years to catch a Nicholas Cage film.
Pig: 3 out of 5 Stars
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