Nicolas Cage stars as a slightly exaggerated version of himself in “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” a wildly oddball film from director Tom Gormican. Gormican, who co-wrote the screenplay with Kevin Etten, celebrates all things Cage in this smart spoof of the ups and downs of the legendary actor’s career. It’s a funny, fun, and creative buddy movie, with a bit of action and espionage thrown in.
Nick Cage (Cage) is looking for his next acting job. After being rejected again (and racking up over $600,000 in personal debt), his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) approaches him with an unusual and seemingly easy project: making a personal appearance at the birthday party of a superfan (and suspected crime boss), Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal).
Javi has offered to pay Nick a cool million just to show up at his villa in Spain and, with the payday being too great to turn down, he accepts. What Nick doesn’t bargain for is the unexpected turn the weekend takes when he’s approached by a CIA agent (Tiffany Haddish) at the airport. She recruits him to use his massive acting talent to spy on Javi, and Cage becomes a secret operative for the U.S. government.
It’s a wacky story that goes to some absurd places, but the fictionalized tale is easily carried by Cage and Pascal. They have a natural chemistry that makes this one of the better buddy comedies in recent memory. Pascal not only holds his own against Cage’s enormous screen presence, he often outshines it. Cage is given free reign to do those crazy Cage-y things we all know and love, with his rowdy style of screaming lines to his wild-eyed expressions. He’s a good sport when it comes to making fun of himself, with a self-deprecating charm that celebrates the charisma, raw skill, and general eccentricity of the man who spawned a thousand memes.
Fans of the actor will delight in many of the amusing Easter eggs and casual mentions of Cage’s extensive filmography. This also causes the film’s greatest hiccups, because it sometimes feels like a meme-a-minute type of storytelling instead of something that has been crafted with a deeper sophistication. In other words, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” isn’t high art, but it sure is different and fun.