(Photo by ©Buena Vista Pictures courtesy Everett Collection)
In just a few short weeks, Nicolas Cage will play himself in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent when it opens in theaters everywhere, signaling the culmination of a career so eclectic and, at times, perplexing that it includes both Oscar-winning work and a movie about a publishing agent who thinks he’s turning into a vampire. And if there was any question as to whether Unbearable Weight is closer to the former or the latter, it’s worth noting that it currently sports an impressive 100% Tomatometer score, thanks to reviews that came in after its South by Southwest premiere.
While the critics so far seem to be in agreement about Cage’s latest film, it’s a little trickier when it comes to the conversation about whether Cage himself is a great actor or merely an intense one (they even did an entire episode of Community about it).
Clearly the man is talented, as evidenced by the aforementioned Oscar (for Leaving Las Vegas), but he’s done a lot of movies, and let’s just say not all of them are winners. He also has a lot of fans who will show up for any film he’s in, but it’s unclear to what extent that love is ironic. There’s a reason why videos of Nic Cage freak-outs have amassed millions of views on YouTube.
One thing is for certain: Nicolas Cage never half-asses a job. When he accepts any role, from the smallest low-budget indie to globetrotting adventures and superhero flicks, he goes whole-hog, and that may be a part of his appeal. His enthusiasm is so earnest that he can’t help but endear himself to the audience. He may not always star in critical darlings, but damn if he isn’t the most entertaining thing about those lesser films.
The other reason Cage has have built an unshakeable fanbase may have something to do with his versatility. In just the past two years, he’s wielded a katana against alien invaders (Jiu Jitsu), voiced the patriarch of an animated prehistoric family (The Croods: A New Age), battled animatronic death machines in a haunted family fun center (Willy’s Wonderland), earned the surprise admiration of many as a retired chef looking for his pig (Pig), and anchored whatever the hell was going on in Sion Sono’s Prisoners of the Ghostland. There aren’t many out there who could pull all of that off.
With all of that in mind, we look back this week on the singular career of one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic leading men to re-examine the Nicolas Cage films that critics rejected. Joining regular co-hosts Jacqueline Coley and Mark Ellis is co-host of the Medium Popcorn Podcast and Nic Cage super-fan, Brandon Collins, who even came with his own sound bites to drop. He goes to bat for a handful of what he feels are some of the misunderstood Rotten gems in Nic Cage’s career, from the goofy fun of The Wicker Man to the campy, give-it-your-all spirit of Trespass to, yes, the glorious hair of Con Air.
Check in every Thursday for a new episode of Rotten Tomatoes Is Wrong (A Podcast From Rotten Tomatoes). Each week, hosts Jacqueline and Mark and guests go deep and settle the score on some of the most beloved – and despised – movies and TV shows ever made, directly taking on the statement we hear from so many fans: “Rotten Tomatoes is wrong.”
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Meet the hosts
Jacqueline Coley is an editor at Rotten Tomatoes, with a focus on awards and indie coverage but with a passion for everything, from the MCU to musicals and period pieces. Coley is a regular moderator at conventions and other events, can be seen on Access Hollywood and other shows, and will not stand Constantine slander of any kind. Follow Jacqueline on Twitter: @THATjacqueline.
Mark Ellis is a comedian and contributing editor for Rotten Tomatoes. He currently hosts the Rotten Tomatoes series Versus, among others, and can be seen co-hosting the sports entertainment phenomenon Movie Trivia Schmoedown. His favorite Star Wars movie is Jedi (guess which one!), his favorite person is actually a dog (his beloved stepdaughter Mollie), and – thanks to this podcast – he’s about to watch Burlesque for the first time in his life. Follow Mark on Twitter: @markellislive.