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SXSW 2022: ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is a love letter to Cage’s career

SXSW 2022: ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is a love letter to Cage’s career

SXSW 2022: ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent’ is a love letter to Cage’s career
March 17
13:09 2022

AUSTIN, Texas ­­­­­— Actor Nicholas Cage laughed uncontrollably along with nearly 3,000 fans and audience members during the premiere of his meta-action-comedy “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” at South by Southwest in Paramount Theatre on Saturday.

In his newest film, Cage takes on his toughest role yet: Nic Cage. After failing to revive his acting career, Cage attends a superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal)’s birthday party in exchange for $1 million. Upon arriving at Gutierrez’s enormous seaside mansion, Cage is approached by CIA agent Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and is given the role of a lifetime, a chance to be a real-life spy. The only catch is the person he has to take down is his new best friend, Gutierrez.

“Unbearable Weight” is jam-packed with references to iconic Cage movies such as “The Wicker Man,” “Moonstruck” and “Con Air.” Any fan of Cage’s previous work will have a blast with this film. Watching this film in a sold-out theater with Cage was an experience unlike any other. There’s a shot at the end of the movie where Cage sits at the world premiere of his newest film surrounded by laughing fans. It was a mirror image of what he looked like sitting at Paramount Theatre for the “Unbearable Weight” premiere and added to the meta feel of the picture.

Unfortunately, unless you’re a really big Cage fan, into cheesy action-comedies or are watching the movie with the man himself, “Unbearable Weight” probably wouldn’t be as enjoyable to watch at home. A lot of the plot relies on knowing references from Cage’s previous work, like “Put. The Bunny. Back in the box” or “Not the bees! Not the bees!” The film plays heavily into the Cage memes that have circulated around the internet for the past two decades, but in a way that doesn’t feel cringey or dumb. If you’re not caught up on your Cage references and memes, however, this one might be worth a skip.

Cage’s performance is commendable. He plays multiple versions of himself and his characters throughout the movie, one being “Nicky,” a clean-shaven young version of Cage, whom he gets into arguments with frequently. Cage’s bromance with superfan Gutierrez is also hysterical, as is Cage and Pascal’s relationship in real life. The chemistry between the two both in the film and on stage is electric.

After the premiere, Cage took the stage in his plaid shortbread-inspired suit for a Q&A session, where he revealed he was originally completely against taking part in the movie.

“When I first heard about it, I said no, nah I’m not doing that,” Cage said to the audience. “No, I’m not interested in playing myself. Get someone else.”

He subsequently suggested if Gene Wilder had been alive, the movie should have been about him. Cage changed his mind, however, after realizing writer and director Tom Gormican wasn’t trying to make a comedy at the expense of himself and his career. Gormican, known for “Ghosted” and “That Awkward Moment,” had actually written the screenplay before getting in contact with Cage, hoping he would understand his vision for the film.

“Tom wrote me a very enthusiastic letter and I realized he wasn’t trying to do an Andy Samberg SNL sketch,” Cage said. “He was actually interested in some of the earlier work and wanted to maybe showcase that.”

“Unbearable Weight” is a love letter to Cage’s 41-year acting career, and while it may not hold up for those unfamiliar with his previous work, it’s a must-see for fans and superfans alike. To get the most out of the film, don’t go in expecting too much, be prepared to suspend your disbelief and be sure to catch up on iconic Cage films before your screening.

Maddie’s final rating: 3/5

Featured Image: The cast of “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” stands on the stage of the Paramount Theatre on March 13, 2022. Photo by Madeleine Moore

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Madeleine Moore

Madeleine Moore

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