The NBC show Community once had an episode, Introduction to Teaching, where Abed takes a course called ‘Nicolas Cage; Good or Bad.’ Nicolas Cage has been in at least 116 films. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent takes a comedic look at a fictional version of Nicolas Cage that may not be too far off from reality. The real Nicolas Cage nearly went bankrupt, owing the IRS $6.3 million while spending $20k per month to care for his mother. To avoid bankruptcy, he ramped up the number of films he starred in. The debt was finally paid off, per a GQ interview, when he signed up for The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
Nicolas Cage has been routinely in one to three movies released each and every year since 1984. In this film, there is a counseling session in which he points out that in any other industry this level of dedication to a job would receive high praise, but in acting, you must show restraint. There is a lot of truth to that statement especially when you consider that Cage has never once phoned in a performance, he always gives 100%, even if 75% may have been more appropriate. Nick Cage doesn’t do anything less than 100%.
I enjoyed National Treasure, but not as much as Pig. Mandy was my introduction to grindhouse films, and while not for me, Cage’s performance was not the reason I did not like it. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent has lots of self-deprecating humor but, it is a fan’s love letter to Cage. I am not sure if you can call a film ‘meta’ if it is explicit in its ‘meta’ plot line. This film will probably lead to some confusion about where the real Nicolas Cage ends and his on-screen persona begins and that is just fine. I would love to think Cage lives his real life at 100%, 100% of the time. He shows no signs of burnout and some of his recent films, like Pig, continue to demonstrate his massive talent.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent; Good or Bad? I laughed out loud multiple times throughout the film. I picked up on maybe 25% of the references to Cage’s previous work. I have seen some of his blockbusters, failures, and indie darlings. I think this is a good film and one of the best uses of fan service that can still appeal to a wide audience. There is no denying that Nicolas Cage is a hard-working actor and that some of his films are worthy of multiple re-watches. I think he is massively talented in a unique way and that sets him apart. The question I am left with is, has he worked so hard to prove he is talented and to separate his name from that of his uncle?