‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is Kinda Heavy, Man

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The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (CREDIT: Karen Ballard/Lionsgate)

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Sharon Horgan, Ike Barinholtz, Alessandra Mastronardi, Lily Sheen, Jacob Scipio, Neil Patrick Harris

Director: Tom Gormican

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: R for Mainly Salty Language and a Few Shootouts

Release Date: April 22, 2022 (Theaters)

How self-aware is too self-aware? That’s a question inherent to the life of any movie star, but it’s especially salient in the case of Nicolas Cage. He’s equally beloved, mocked, or lovingly mocked for his over-the-top performances in the likes of Ghost Rider, Face/Off, The Wicker Man, and countless others. Word eventually got around to him that he was more meme than man in some corners, but instead of winking at repudiating this reputation, he’s mostly continued to follow his own particular muse in the form of his self-professed “Nouveau Shamanic” acting style. But now he’s forced to confront his career as thoroughly as possible as he plays a lightly fictionalized version of himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. I’m one of the biggest Nic Cage fans in the world, so my feeling coming into this flick was that it would either be my new favorite movie ever, or it would be a little too on the nose. The truth is somewhere in the middle, as Cage is of course up for whatever, but there are some Uncanny Valley-esque vibes.

The setup is basically National Treasure meets Bowfinger: in the midst of an existential crisis that has him contemplating retirement, Cage is surreptitiously hired by the CIA to aid in some geopolitical subterfuge. It all goes down in the sun-dappled vistas of Mallorca, where he’s fulfilling a million-dollar gig to attend the birthday party of Javi (Pedro Pascal), a budding screenwriter who’s also the suspected head of a cartel and supposed mastermind behind a recent kidnapping. But mostly, he’s an audience surrogate, with the obsessive collection of Nic Cage memorabilia to prove it. If you’re thinking that somebody who loves Nicolas Cage this much couldn’t possibly be that bad, then you should know that one of this movie’s core messages is to trust your instincts.

And what do my instincts tell me as I’m writing this review? Mostly, they say that I was kind of weirded out by how similar this Nic Cage is to the real thing without being exactly the same. Offscreen, he has a few ex-wives and two sons, while the Massively Talent-ed version has at least one ex (Sharon Horgan) that’s still a part of his daily life and a daughter named Addy (Lily Sheen). I don’t know what his relationships with his sons are like, but I hope that he’s not forcing them to watch The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari to the point that they need to hash it out in therapy. This is all to say, Unbearable Weight gets the broad-stroke details of Cage’s unique story correct, but it renders his mystique a bit too quotidian. It’s respectful, but not transcendent. It pulls off the requisite action-adventure thrills just fine, but if you really want to know what makes this man tick, just check out any of his interviews.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is Recommended If You Like: Nonstop introspection, Geeking out about German expressionism and Paddington, Emotional straight male bonding

Grade: 3 out of 5 Nouveau Shamans

I Love Watching All Those Matrixes Get Resurrected!

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CREDIT: Warner Bros. Pictures/Screenshot

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jessica Henwick, Jonathan Groff, Neil Patrick Harris, Priyanka Chopra Jones, Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Ricci, Chad Stahelski

Director: Lana Wachowski

Running Time: 148 Minutes

Rating: R

Release Date: December 22, 2021 (Theaters and HBO Max)

The Matrix Resurrections is perhaps the most self-referential movie ever made. That’s usually a major turnoff for audiences (give or take a Scream), but we’ve all been living in the Matrix ever since the first came out. I love that fact about our lives! So of course the scenes in Resurrections that I loved the most are the ones that most clearly echo the rest of the franchise and reckon with the creation of the movie that we’re watching right now. (Spaceballs, anyone?) I’m obviously talking about the scene where the video game team is pitching (and re-pitching) their sequel ideas. And I’m also talking about Neo and Trinity’s final encounter with The Analyst, what with it being firmly underscored by a theme of second chances. You might have to squint to see the connections in other scenes, but not that hard. Long live the Catrix!

Grade: A Million Miles in One Matrix