nicolas cage in red robe and sunglasses

Katalin Vermes / Lionsgate (CC-BY)

‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is sure to spark more Nicolas Cage memes

Nicolas Cage plays himself in this referential comedy.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 13, 2022   Updated on Mar 30, 2022, 9:22 am CDT

Nicolas Cage is a well-known and beloved cultural figure, and you don’t even need to watch his films to recognize this fact. If you’re even a little bit online, you see his face in memes and compilation clips across social media. His famous lines, like “Not the bees!”, are referenced constantly. So what if there was a film—not a documentary, a fictional film—that explored Cage’s fandom while the actor plays a version of himself? That is essentially what The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is; a love letter to Cage’s many performances over the years bundled inside a brand new Cage film. 

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
Four stars

Release Date: April 22, 2022
Director: Tom Gormican
Release: Theatrical
Nicolas Cage plays a fictional version of himself in this meta comedy that also stars Pedrol Pascal.

“When I first heard about it, I said, ‘No, I’m not doing that,’” Cage said following the premiere of the film at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival on March 12. But director Tom Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten eventually convinced Cage to sign on to both star in and produce the film, which stars Cage as himself but with a fictional family—think of a more exaggerated version of Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Cage also plays a wilder alter-ego of himself (Nicky) who gives himself pep talks and hugs while pushing him to think of himself as a movie star. It’s an extremely meta film, one that is reminiscent of his role in 2002’s Adaptation but also several of his other films, which are referenced and named throughout Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

To really enjoy this film, you should know his filmography well. But even a little appreciation for his work will go a long way here. The film begins with Nicolas Cage in a rut. He’s looking for his next big role, but his focus on his career and persona have distracted him from his family: Teenage daughter Addy (Lily Sheen) and ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan). In a desperate moment, he accepts an offer from a rich fan, Javi (Pedro Pascal), to attend a birthday party. Once he arrives, all is not what it seems, and Cage soon gets involved with the CIA after being flagged down by an agent (Tiffany Haddish), who sees an opportunity for Cage to help the U.S. government.

nicolas cage and pedro pascal in a jeep laughing
Pedro Pascal and Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Katalin Vermes / Lionsgate (CC-BY)

The best part of the film is the friendship that emerges between Cage and Javi. Pascal is deeply lovable and earnest here; he convinces Cage in one scene to watch Paddington 2. (Another film that the internet loves.) In another great scene, the duo take acid together before going on a drive. A bond naturally forms; the two actors have great chemistry. Pascal didn’t have to reach far to play a Cage superfan. At the premiere, he said that he was already a fan of Cage’s films before he took the role. And the conversations between the two characters on-screen feel natural because they mirror the interactions between the actors. “I generally enjoy my conversations with Pedro,” said Cage. 

There’s a lot of talk in this film about making a “serious” film for adults, versus the kind of film that tops the box office every year—a family-friendly superhero film. It’s clearly a parody of the quotes that auteur filmmakers give to the press, which then spark debate on Film Twitter. There is some truth here, too. Cage likely thinks deeply about what direction to take his career regularly. He said that he is getting more interested in starring in dramas. Last year’s Pig was tremendous, although it was snubbed by the Academy Awards. But The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent—and its rabid audience—proved that Cage is doing just fine. His fans will always follow him, and they will gladly watch any film he stars in. Especially if he’s playing an exaggerated version of himself. 

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*First Published: Mar 13, 2022, 11:27 am CDT