HomeMoviesSXSW Review: Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

SXSW Review: Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Photo Credit: Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate
There’s an iconic scene in Community where Abed spirals out of control, channeling Nicolas Cage, in search of answering if the Oscar winner is good or bad. In spite of winning an Academy Award, if he’s bad, is he good at being bad? Where does he fall on the spectrum of talent?

So, as the title of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent suggests, Cage’s talent knows no bounds. And it’s made clear within the first act, that Cage — playing himself — understands his public perception as an actor that takes on seemingly infinite work only to help pay his debts.

Once he’s locked out of his luxury suite that he owes $600K for, is rejected from “the role of a lifetime” (that is certainly anything but great), and drunkenly spirals out of control at his daughter’s Sweet 16 (akin to Leaving Las Vegas), he reluctantly accepts a $1 million offer to be the guest of Javi (Pedro Pascal), a international crime lord and Cage’s number one fan.

Though he’s initially reticent to the whole scenario, which involves a number of twists along the way, Javi is truly a driving force as he pulls Cage into a creative comfort as the film turns into a buddy comedy. Impressively, Pascal also manages to steal one of an actor so magnetic, that a fan fiction movie like this was greenlit in the first place because of his cult of personality.

While Cage didn’t say as much at the SXSW premiere Q&A that Pascal was the reason he finally joined the project after turning down the mere idea of a movie about him like this multiple times (out of fear it would be akin to Andy Samberg’s SNL caricature), it truly feels like Pascal is the glue that brings it all together.

Pascal has a track record of being a showstopper that is able to step into foreign worlds like this. During a live-reading of an episode of Community, Pascal was brought on to read the part of Walton Goggins’ character. Somehow, as the fish out of water among a tight-knit cast, Pascal became the most memorable part member on-screen.

Of course, he was reading from a script from one of the most talented writers rooms of the century. And in that same sense, director Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten also provided a script that is filled with nuance that Cage might have felt was originally missing.

Sure, there are a few outer monologue scenes with a de-aged Cage where he has conversations with himself that might be seen as juvenile. But this duality that’s presented is part of what makes Cage tick. He’s at constant odds with himself, chasing down the persona that has captured audiences for decades. At times he’s over the top, but never too much. And beyond that, there’s never any blunt measures taken.

Admittedly, I wanted more of that coming into the movie. I wanted blatant, self-aware reenactments of Cage’s movies. Instead, there are more subtle homages that are naturally incorporated into the story. After some reflection upon some initial disappointment that the movie wasn’t what I expected coming in, everything that happens is as it should.

This isn’t just an homage to one of the most polarizing personas in Hollywood, or cheap meta production. It’s a wonderful and hilarious journey about the relationship between fandom and the artist.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent hits theaters nationwide on April 22.




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