Review “The unbearable weight of massive talents”
There Are Multiple Nic Cages On Display In The New Action Meta-Comedy The unbearable weight of massive talent: the financially troubled actor with a penchant for lavish purchases and hotel stays that would ruin the Vermont budget; a less than attentive father who means well but quickly loses his teenage daughter’s patience; and, above all, the artist devoted to his craft. Oh, and there’s also Nicky, the vampire kiss-era Cage who haunts the real Nic Cage, who is there to remind the comedian that he is first and foremost a movie star. For Nicky, it’s less artistic, more petty.
So, I wonder what Nicky, with her taped pompadour and leather jacket, would think of the new big-screen joint of her flesh-and-blood (and welcome) counterpart? Guess he’d love the action-packed ending, but would be bored sleeping with the setup. Which is unfortunate. Nicky, you missed one hell of a party.
Director Tom Gormican and his co-screenwriter Kevin Etten have launched a wild bacchanalia to celebrate the career of perhaps the most versatile actor in the history of American cinema. Many of Cage’s past hits (and some misses) are referenced throughout the 107-minute film, including a sneaky matchstick shot of Cage staggering in a swimming pool, beer bottle in hand, coming straight out of Leaving Las Vegas. At one point, a CIA agent, played quite starkly by Tiffany Haddish, asks for a selfie with the star – her niece loves it Croods 2 — as she slips a tracking device into her coat pocket. There is also a running gag about Keep Tess, a nearly forgotten 1994 Shirley MacLaine comedy about a first lady and Cage’s wretched Secret Service agent. The movie is as much of a greatest hits compilation as I expected.
There’s a plot, not that it matters much. We are here to see Nic Cage be Nic Cage. Or Nicky Cage too. As time goes by, cash-poor Cage receives a million dollar offer from his agent Fink (Neil Patrick Harris) to fly to Spain for a birthday party. billionaire super fan. Portrayed to perfection by Pedro Pascal as olive tycoon Javi Gutierrez, who could also have a side business as a leading arms dealer, the chemistry between these two protagonists is reminiscent of another era of cinema known as the name of “Comedy Buddy”.
Cage and Pascal milk the relationship between the narcissistic superstar and his undying admirer for all possible laughs. Their bromance is what both men needed in their lives. Even when the revelation of Gutierrez’s cage cave comes to light, we know it’s about devotion and not some sick man’s work as we saw in Cage’s Front/Off the dreadful co-star John Travolta Momentum or whatever its name.
As a Cage fanatic myself, it was a real joy to see the actor be so present in a movie. This is not an actor review. Say what you will about the seemingly endless Drek Cage who has given his name over the past decade – he starred in six films in 2019 alone! – dude never calls him. I mean physically present.
Not to get into the weeds of the industry too much, but the deal with these low-budget Cage thrillers seems to pop up every two weeks (the same goes for John Cusack and, before his illness became public knowledge, Bruce Willis) is that the star gets half the budget, up front. Once this verification is cleared, you can create your movie with all the resources you have left. Oh, and the star can only shoot for a week, at best, because they have to shoot on another shoot soon. Do you see what I mean by present? Watch some of these films (and then just some of these particular films) and you’ll notice that the star is rarely on the same plane as her co-stars. That’s because, most likely, they were gone in sixty seconds (see what we did there?) by the time it came time for the co-stars’ lines. But here, Cage is clearly committed, giving it his all and taking action. with his co-stars.
There are a few twists along the way, which I won’t spoil here. The plot, by the way, who cares. Do all the jokes hit the mark? No, but enough. Are talents like Haddish and Ike Barinhotlz wasted here? Somehow. Did I have a good time watching this movie? Did I feel like a teenager again watching the king of 90s action movies kick ass and deliver an emotionally powerful performance in the same scene? Was I happy to be in a theater to watch an original idea rather than another superhero, franchise sequel or docu-drama from Wikipedia? You bet your pretty ass I did.
As a reviewer, I’m proud to say that Nic Cage is back…not that he’s ever gone anywhere.