The Movie Waffler New to Netflix - THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT | The Movie Waffler


Nicolas Cage becomes involved in a CIA plot to take down a drug baron.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Tom Gormican

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Sharon Horgan, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Lily Sheen, Neil Patrick Harris

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent poster

While the last couple of years have shown signs that Nicolas Cage is beginning to once again pick projects for artistic rather than economic reasons, much of this century has seen the actor churn out one straight to VOD title after another as he attempts to pay off debts accrued by his lavish lifestyle. Unlike say, Bruce Willis or Naomi Watts, who similarly fell into the straight to VOD trap, Cage still managed to maintain his cult status throughout this period of his career thanks to his unique screen presence. The social media era has turned Cage into something of a human meme, and it's difficult to know if his fans are laughing at him or with him. What's clear is that Cage is happy to laugh at himself, as evidenced by The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review

Here, Cage plays a fictional version of himself, one that's oddly toned down and bears little resemblance to all that we know of his bizarre private life. In reality Cage is married to a twentysomething Japanese actress, while this version is recently divorced from a fortysomething Irish make-up artist (Sharon Horgan), with a surly teenage daughter (Lily Sheen) he struggles to connect with. After embarrassing himself at his daughter's birthday party, Cage decides to pay off his debts, quit acting and become a better father. His fictional debts run to a mere $600,000 here, compared to the tens of millions Cage has owed at points.

To clear that sum, Cage reluctantly accepts the offer of a million dollars to attend a party thrown by Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), a Spanish billionaire and super-fan of the actor. After his initial cynicism, Cage warns to Javi and finds himself conflicted when he's recruited by the CIA, who claim the uber-fan is the head of a drugs cartel (Spain is bizarrely portrayed as though it's some Central American backwater here).

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review

Director Tom Gormican's film suffers from an issue that dogged a lot of Hollywood comedies in the 1980s. It boasts a high concept that catches the viewer's attention (a working class Detroit cop causes chaos in Beverly Hills; three blokes raise an infant; a bunch of misfits decide to become cops) but front-loads all the high concept comedy in the first hour, leaving us to gaze at our watches as it wraps up a thriller plot we never really cared about in the closing 45 minutes.

Its first hour is indeed fun, thanks mainly to the bromance between Cage and Pascal. The two actors have a goofy rapport and are just a lot of fun to hang out with. Also playing a digitally de-aged version of his 1980s' self, Cage proves just what a good actor he is in scenes where he bickers with himself. We're reminded that the Cage of today is very different to the Cage of yesteryear, but they're both equally compelling screen presences.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent review

But then the movie remembers that it's got this unnecessary plot about drug cartels that it needs to resolve. Gormican struggles to carry the comedy over to the blandly staged action scenes that make up much of his film's final act, and what began as a fun romp goes out with the audience crying "Oh just get on with it for fuck's sake!" The much loved Paddington 2 is referenced at several points, which is ironic as that's an example of how to wrap up a comedy's plot in entertaining fashion. That movie climaxes with an action set-piece, but the laughs continue right through the action and it never outstays its welcome. The same sadly can't be said for The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
 is on Netflix UK/ROI now.