The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a mega-meta action-comedy film starring Oscar winner Nicolas Cage as “Nick Cage,” is now available on Showmax.
“Nick Cage” is a fictionalized version of the star in the film, portrayed as a once-highly respected actor who has fallen on hard times and yearns for a return to box office glory and prestige. However, his dwindling career is only one of his issues. Though he doesn’t realize it, the fake Cage’s megalomania has poisoned his relationships with his ex-wife Olivia (Emmy nominee Sharon Horgan from Bad Sisters, Catastrophe, and Together) and daughter Addy (Lily Sheen, the daughter of Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen).
Creatively unfulfilled and facing financial ruin, the fictional Cage is forced to accept a $1 million offer to attend a superfan’s birthday party (Critics Choice Super Award nominee Pedro Pascal from The Last of Us and The Mandalorian). Cage is recruited by a CIA operative (Emmy winner Tiffany Haddish from The Card Counter and Girls Trip) and forced to live up to his own legend, channeling his most iconic and beloved on-screen characters in order to save himself and his loved ones. The seminal, award-winning actor must take on the role of a lifetime: Nicolas Cage, with a career built for this very moment.
As Cage himself puts it, “This is [filmmaker Tom Gormican]’s invented version of Nick Cage – a neurotic, high-anxiety version of Nick Cage… This film is a real head trip for me.”
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was nominated for the 2023 Critics Choice Award for Best Comedy Movie, as well as two 2023 Critics Choice Super Awards – for Best Action Movie and Best Actor in an Action Movie (Cage). The film has an 87% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where the critics’ consensus says, “Smart, funny, and wildly creative, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent presents Nicolas Cage in peak gonzo form – and he’s matched by Pedro Pascal’s scene-stealing performance.”
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a heartfelt, genuine, and hilarious love letter to a larger-than-life legend as you know and love him… and as you haven’t seen him before. He was born to play this part.
But when Gormican and his co-writer Kevin Etten sat down to write a strange little script that would simultaneously celebrate, mock, and fictionalize their favorite actor, they were taking a risk.
According to Etten, the screenplay began as a “leap of faith,” as the project was written on spec, with their subject unaware of the filmmakers’ plans.
It was a labour of love, but Cage was initially hesitant to take part. “I had no interest in playing myself in a movie,” he remembers. “But then I received a very nice letter from Tom, and I read his script. The first act really terrified me, and by the time I got to acts two and three, I thought: Tom is taking us on an adventure that is really quite exciting.”
Gormican’s intriguing and off-kilter ideas drew Cage in. “I call Tom ‘The Mind,’” he says, “because the film really is his fantasy, culled from perceptions in the media and on the internet, as well as blips in my personal life that have gone public. Essentially, the film is an imagination based on Tom’s interpretation of what my life might be like.”
Cage, who already has an Oscar for Best Actor for Leaving Las Vegas, won numerous awards on the festival circuit last year for his lead role in the critically acclaimed drama Pig. He’s worked in romance, comedy, drama, avant-garde, and horror films such as City of Angels, Moonstruck, Raising Arizona, Lord of War, Wild at Heart, and Mandy, as well as wild action films such as Face/Off, Con Air, The Rock, National Treasure, and Kick-Ass. He also provides the voice of Grug in the animated comedy The Croods.
As Gormican says, “There are very few actors that can do every genre equally well, who can switch from comedy to drama – sometimes within the same project.”
But why imagine a different life for this Hollywood legend? Cage, according to Gormican, is more than just an actor. “He’s become a cultural figure. As culture gets stranger and stranger and fashion choices get more outlandish, you can trace like a direct line back to the patron saint of strangeness, Nicolas Cage. Just seeing his face makes people happy. ”
It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that another Cage fan was discovered among the film’s ensemble cast. “Much of why I became an actor has to do with Nicolas Cage,” says Pascal, a real-life fan who adds yet another level of meta to the movie by playing die-hard Cage fan, Javi.
Javi serves as a kind of stand-in for the filmmakers’ Cage obsessions – and our own. “Javi embodies all of our own fanboy love for Nick,” says Etten.
For Haddish, the biggest surprise was that Cage was doing the movie at all. “When I first read the script, I was like, ‘Yo, Nicolas Cage is not doin’ this movie,’” she says. “And they’re like, ‘No, Nicolas Cage is doin’ the movie.’ I was like, ‘For real, he gonna be in the movie?’ I don’t know him personally, so what do I know? They’re like, ‘No, he’s doin’ it.’ I said, ‘Well, if he’s doin’ it, I’m in it. Done and done.’”
And now that she does know the real Cage? “Nicolas Cage’s character in this movie is what I think everyone thinks Nicolas Cage might be, but he’s not that at all. He really is deep, compassionate, kind. He’s really funny. He’s a really good storyteller. And he’s very, very dedicated – when he decides he’s gonna do something, that’s what he’s gonna do.”
IndieWire calls The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, “one of the funniest movies of the year.” Empire Magazine says it’s, “A big, silly, scrappy bundle of fun, packed with Cage-related Easter eggs and in-jokes, but also a whole lotta heart,” and Variety says the film “has a delirious good time poking fun at Nicolas Cage, celebrating everything that makes him Nicolas Cage — and, in the end, actually becoming a Nicolas Cage movie, which turns out to be both a cheesy thing and a special thing.”