Nicolas Cage Is a Parody of Himself in Devilishly Clever ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’

Nicolas Cage has fun spoofing his persona and the formula of some of his biggest blockbusters in meta action comedy “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” The Oscar winner plays a fictional version of himself, Nick Cage, who is on the verge of financial ruin when his agent (Neil Patrick Harris) tells him about about an offer from one his biggest fans, billionaire Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal), to attend his birthday in Spain for a hefty sum of one million dollars. What starts out as a mildly humiliating business deal turns into something else entirely after Nick finds himself pulled into an operation that plays out like one of his movies.

“Massive Talent” starts off with a young Spanish woman, Maria (Katrin Vankova), watching one of Cage’s most memorable films, “Con Air,” and being moved by the ending. The plot takes a sharp turn when thugs break into her place and kidnap her to the tune of the big song from that film’s soundtrack, “How Do I Live.” Back in Hollywood, Nick is fretting over his career and his changing relationship with his teen daughter, Addy (Lily Sheen). After failing to land a meaty role in director David Gordon Green’s new cop drama, he finds himself in an existential crisis that involves talking to a younger version of himself (played by a de-aged Cage) in these perfect scenes that spoof his role in David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart.” He’s now at a crossroad: Does he want to keep trying to revive the career he had in the nineties? Or should he accept that his movie stars days are behind and try his hand at smaller roles in prestigious indies (i.e. “the gay uncle in a Duplass Brothers film”)?

Arounds this same time, his reckless spending is catching up to him, and right after he gets drunk and embarasses himself at Addy’s sweet sixteen, he finds himself locked out of his apartment at the Sunset Vine Tower. With his tail between his legs, he takes the offer to attend Javi’s birthday, but what he doesn’t know is that his host is being investigated by the American government. Almost as soon as his plane lands is he accosted by CIA agent Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) who later, along with another agent, Martin (Ike Barinholtz), convinces him to spy on Javi, who they believe is holding Maria hostage on his compound in order to blackmail her politician father.

However, the Javi Nick meets is generous and lovable, and does not at all match up with the description of the ruthless crime boss Vivian and Martin have given him. In order to carry out his mission as an informant, he proposes an extended stay at Javi’s in order to help the aspiring screenwriter develop a film. In the process, the two bond, dropping acid together and living it up along the beautiful Spanish coast. Javi even takes his guest into a secret room dedicated to Nick, which includes a wax figure of the actor. However, the fun and games come to a halt after Addy and her mother Olivia (Sharon Horgan), Nick’s makeup artist ex-wife who has always been a voice of reason for him, are put in harm’s way.

Director Tom Gormican and his co-writer Kevin Etten sprinkle in references to Cage’s films throughout “Massive Talent,” but one does not have to be overly familiar with actor’s canon to appreciate what they have done, taking what starts off as a humorous commentary on celebrity, fandom and what it means to be an artist and turning it into a full-blown clever action thriller. One cannot help but even compare it to one of Cage’s most brilliant films, “Adaptation.” As for Cage himself, he rises to the occasion and proves to be a good sport in poking fun at his image as an eccentric and a spendthrift. The fun chemistry he has with Pascal is a driving force to the very end of the film. In addition to the laughs and thrills, there are also plenty of heartfelt earned emotions. The film may even usher in the new era of Cage’s career that his fictional counterpart longs for.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” releases April 22 in theaters nationwide.