Pop Culture

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent

Title: The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Describe This Movie In One Full Metal Jacket Quote:
PVT. JOKER: Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?
Brief Plot Synopsis: Movie star finally finds a way to make himself useful.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3.5 Rob Gordons out of 5.
Tagline: "Nicolas Cage = Nick Cage"

Better Tagline: "Despite all his rage, he's still just Nicolas Cage."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Nick Cage (Nic Cage) is in a bind: facing bankruptcy and uncharacteristically(?) desperate for roles, he accepts the invitation of Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), a billionaire "olive mogul" who happens to be his biggest fan, to travel to Mallorca for Javi's birthday. Unfortunately, the trip coincides with the kidnapping of the daughter of Spain's President, which finds the CIA reaching out to Cage for undercover assistance.
"Critical" Analysis: It's unclear how many actors of Cage's pedigree would be willing to spoof themselves to the extent he does in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. And we're not talking about those willing to indulge in relatively harmless The Player (to which screenwriters Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten owe a substantial debt) levels of self-reference, but Oscar winners with decades-spanning careers.

True, the publicity materials for the film go out of their way to emphasize this is some parallel dimension version (hence, "Nick" instead of "Nic"), who has a daughter (Anna MacDonald) instead of sons and one ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) instead of four. But he's still, in the words of "Nicky," the Wild at Heart-era digitally de-aged alter ego who occasionally shows up, Wogan style, to argue with our protagonist: "NICK FUCKIIIIING CAGE!" Star of Face/Off, Con Air, and Guarding Tess, among 90+ others (Massive Talent is actually his 100th leading role). In Javi's words, "[Cage's] gift brings light to an increasingly dark and broken world."

Looks like somebody watched Drive Angry recently.

Javi's praise sounds — and is — over the top, but that's the point: it isn't just the comical burden someone of Cage's pedigree is forced to bear, but how it's not just useful for traveling up one's own ass (as in, say, your average Adam McKay movie), but also in providing moments approaching genuine human warmth and emotion.

It's also nice, as we gird our loins for a summer chock full of Marvel madness and Scientology-adjacent fighter plane porn, that we're getting to enjoy two movies as unconventionally badass and heartwarming as Massive Talent and Everything Everywhere All at Once.

There are differences, of course. EEAAO is a more earnestly straightforward (in its way) story, while TUWOMT is more of an inside baseball tale. But both feature certified Hollywood legends (though Cage;s box office impact is sadly greater than Yeoh's) kicking ass in surprisingly heartwarming efforts.

Heartwarming, and parent-forward. For while Cage's onscreen family aren't his real flesh and blood, the sacrifice he's ostensibly willing to make adds some personal stakes to the mayhem. This being Hollywood, Massive Talent can't escape the requisite underlying cynicism, but it's still a blast, and just one of several non-4 quadrant flicks you can check out on the big screen right now (see also The Northman).

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is in theaters today. 
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar