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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent Is the Most Nic Cage Movie Ever

Nicolas Cage plays himself to perfection (while Pedro Pascal rides shotgun)!

By Benjamin Bullard

What do Nicolas Cage and the late, great Prince have in common? Aside from singular personalities that couldn’t be duplicated in a million years, their careers each show serious signs of — how do we put this? — no-filter-itis. Immensely gifted artists with even more immense bodies of work, they’re the kind of prolific megastars who’ve rarely met a neat idea they knew how to say “no” to... even if a lot gets lost in translation between the brilliant initial concept and the sometimes-sketchy finished product.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (streaming here on Peacock!) is the kind of mega-silly meta-movie that could only work with a larger-than-life presence like Cage’s in the starring role. It’s a slapstick-y sendup of Cage’s infamous penchant for chewing the scenery no matter what kind of project he’s a part of, hilariously clever in the way it incorporates at least a dozen (and probably more) classic Cage flicks into a hare-brained caper that touches on fame fatigue, feeling something real, and maybe even bonding with your number-one fan over high-stakes international espionage.

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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent: The role Nic Cage was (literally!) born to play

Just like you don’t have to know every Prince song to fully succumb to the slow sway of “Purple Rain,” you don’t have to be a Nicolas Cage movie completionist to enjoy every second of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent… but boy, does it ever enrich the experience. From Moonstruck to Matchstick Men, writer-director Tom Gormican and cowriter Kevin Etten know and adore Cage’s filmography in all of its 40-year fullness, and it shows in ways both obvious (like Cage’s Wild at Heart alter-ego turning up at inopportune times to bark encouragement at this movie’s fictional version of Cage, like some kind of demented devil on his shoulder) and subtle. Some of them are so subtle, in fact, that a single sit-through isn’t likely to clue in even the most devoted fan to all the ways this movie plays with the larger Nic Cage mythos.

If all that sounds like a head-scratching invitation to guess at what Unbearable Weight is actually about, no worries — there’s a pretty substantial story hidden away inside this most meta of meta-comedies. Playing a totally made-up movie version of his real-life self, Cage seeks solace from career stagnation by jetting off to Spain, where a mysterious (and wealthy) fan named Javi (an endearingly funny Pedro Pascal) makes him the A-list guest of honor at a big birthday bash in the swanky Balearic Islands.

Nick Cage (Nicolas Cage) and Javi (Pedro Pascal) run through a villa in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (2022).

Cage hardly has time to grow sick of Javi’s way-too-enthusiastic fandom, though, before the U.S. Government gets involved, informing Cage behind the scenes that his harmlessly eccentric host is actually an international drug lord — and one who’s just kidnapped the daughter of an upstart Spanish politician. Since Cage is already on the inside as Javi’s house guest, the CIA thinks it’s totally reasonable that the actor step up to the plate and start spying — a suggestion that just so happens to vibe with Cage’s grandiose delusions of jump-starting his shaky career by tackling a risky real-life challenge.

Of course, things don’t go the CIA’s way, as Cage and Javi begin to form a genuine bro-bond, especially after Cage grows more and more beguiled by the truly obsessive extent of Javi’s fan devotion. Heck, he reasons, the CIA might not even have the right guy — an optimistic opinion that grows ever more entrenched, especially once Cage finds himself standing inside Javi’s super-secret Nicolas Cage shrine. Yep, on a billionaire’s budget, Pascal’s character has created the ultimate homage to all things Nic Cage, with an absurdly awful statue — golden pistols and all — of Cage’s Castor Troy hero in Face/Off serving as the tacky collection’s pièce de résistance.

That’s just one of the endless over-the-top jabs at Cage’s screen career that The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent unloads on fans, and to Cage’s abundant credit, he’s an insanely good sport about roasting his own Hollywood image. No matter if you don’t know your Con Air from your Captain Corelli's Mandolin, you’ll still cackle at the absolute Nic Cage-ness of it all… even as you hold out the faintest of hopes that his friendship with Pascal’s wacky sidekick turns out not merely to be, ahem, Gone in 60 Seconds.

Stream The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent on Peacock here.