Gretchen Lee—Copy Editor
I love National Treasure. When a child, I watched it on repeat to the point where, even today, I can quote nearly every line. At recess, my friends and I pretended to find clues around the playground that lead to hidden gold or long-forgotten secrets. It was a simpler time.
I also enjoy a good meme, and Nicholas Cage is a pure fountain of meme-able moments.
Thus, when I stumbled across a trailer for a film in which Nicholas Cage was playing himself and would be befriending Pedro Pascal, my excitement could not be contained.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent chronicles a fictionalized and caricaturized view of Nicholas Cage’s more recent years in acting. As he debates leaving the acting world, he’s invited to Javi’s birthday party, a wealthy eccentric with a serious appreciation for good films.
The two quickly form a fast friendship that destabilizes when the U.S. Government asks Nick to help them topple Javi’s arms-dealing empire. In a race against time and his own distaste for double-crossing his new friend, Nick wrestles with his attempts to be a better father, a better moviemaker, and a better person.
This movie is nearly impossible to categorize; it’s a comedy, it’s an exploration of the human condition, and it’s a blockbuster action movie within a movie. However, the three genres present not only coexist beautifully, but actually enhance one another in a unique way.
It’s a quirky film with a pace that varies from scene-to-scene but it’s also entertaining on multiple levels.
Nicholas Cage and Pedro Pascale’s acting enhances the film. Despite their characters’ different personalities and backgrounds, their unlikely friendship was full of chemistry. Even as they worked against one another, their desire to drop everything to make a movie together was fun to watch.
Though their bromance proved the highlight of the film, Pascale and Cage also shone individually—each character faces their own struggles with family and identity. Their stories paralleled each other in unexpected ways, which delivered a hefty punch in the conclusion.
Technically, this film is also well done. The setting is beautiful, each scene feels deliberately directed and filmed, and the music was well-selected. Much of the soundtrack featured well-placed leitmotifs from some of Cage’s other films that made the score itself feel like an Easter egg for the discerning viewer.
Symbolism was prevalent, but not heavy-handed.
Cage’s conversations with his younger, more ambitious self, Nicky, were used sparingly and in a way where they felt important, but not overused. Watching Cage wrestle with the personification of his ambition and selfishness could have been campy, and to a degree it was hammed up for comedy, but overall, Nicky was an interesting element handled well.
The real strength of this film, however, is the story. It’s a character-driven meta about movies, life, and the consequences of chasing and abandoning dreams. Though heavily dramatized, there is an undercurrent of honesty regarding the way we do, and should, interact with others. It’s a story about the importance of connection as well, whether it be connections with family or connections with friends.
Thus, amidst the humor and the Nicholas Cage memes, there’s a well-constructed, heartfelt tale that is relatable to almost anyone, movie star or not.
Overall, Massive Talent is a delightful tribute to movie making and the art of telling good stories. Using Nicholas Cage as a vessel for that not only provides a unique level of entertainment, but also adds a familiarity to the audience to draw in their interest. Top it all off with top-notch comedy and a precious friendship, and Massive Talent becomes a movie worth watching over and over again.