The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent First Reviews: Nic Cage is Spectacular and Pedro Pascal Steals the Show

Critics say the meta comedy is hilarious, endearing, and buoyed by outstanding, surprisingly layered performances.

by | March 16, 2022 | Comments

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Nicolas Cage plays a parody of — and tribute to — himself in Tom Gormican’s The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, the latest entry in the current trend of meta movies. The action comedy premiered at the SXSW Film Festival this week, where it received unanimously positive reviews out of the gate.

Even with some acknowledged script issues and the possibility of its limited appeal, the film is said to be a hilarious effort in the tradition of such self-referential Hollywood satires as Adaptation and Last Action Hero, with a scene-stealing performance by Pedro Pascal and more heart than you’d expect.

Here’s what critics are saying about The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent:

Is this the movie for Nicolas Cage fans?

If you love Nicolas Cage, this movie is the Bellagio buffet of Nicolas Cage movies. – Neal Pollack, Book & Film Globe

[It’s] a true love letter to every facet of Cage’s past and a tantalizing roadmap to his future. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

The zippy meta-comedy plays like a fan letter to Cage from someone who’s not only seen a lot of movies, but has good taste. – Jude Dry, IndieWire

The filmmakers don’t place a judgment on which of his films have the most value, understanding that a favorite film is intimate and personal. – Marya E. Gates,

It’s a reasonable and pleasurable raison d’êtreMassive Talent is real-person fanfiction. – Adi Robertson, The Verge

What if you’re not a Cage completist?

Not solely for superfans, it plays best for those who appreciate a hard-to-untangle knot of realness, fakeness, vanity, artistry, self-commentary and pure comedy. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

[It’s] the most fun you’ve had at a movie in years… even the most Cage-ambivalent will have to admit. – Jude Dry, IndieWire

Gormican assumes you’ve seen Cage’s biggest successes and even his little-known cult classics. And if you haven’t, then you’ll soon adore them as much as he clearly does. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

The actual finished product feels too inside-baseball; it takes a true Cage aficionado to be in on all the jokes. – Martin Tsai, TheWrap

The film glosses over what makes him tick as an actor, seemingly expecting that you’ll show up with a strong grasp of Cage’s prolific career and its weird blend of highbrow and lowbrow roles. – Adi Robertson, The Verge

Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

(Photo by Katalin Vermes/©Lionsgate)

Is there more to it than just a Nic Cage lovefest?

Similar to The Matrix: Resurrections, Gormican crafts listless action sequences and anti-climactic car chases as commentaries of the current visually inert Blockbuster moviemaking. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

It’s also somewhat reminiscent of The Last Action Hero, in its ability to make meta-commentary on movies that are better, or at least more popular. – Neal Pollack, Book & Film Globe

Its true subject is the magic of movies. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

And how is Cage as… Cage?

One of his best performances. – Drew Tinnin, Dread Central

[He] delivers one of the most complex, yet crowd-pleasing performances of his career. – Marya E. Gates,

Cage, coming off what some would consider the best work of his career in Pig, takes this role and knocks it out of the park again. – Ryan McQuade, AwardsWatch

The throwback of throwback performances… Cage delivers a crowd-pleasing triumph. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

This is solely a showcase for Cage, who surprises by exposing just as much vulnerability as he does a willingness to join in the exuberant humor. – Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

Cage’s manic timing really works in making the best lines in Gormican and co-writer Kevin Etten’s script work. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

What about Pedro Pascal?

What could easily be a fan service cipher in lesser hands is buoyed by Pascal’s layered, emotional performance. – Marya E. Gates,

Pascal turns in the best performance of his career… His emotions are so close to the surface they’d catch fire if lit. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Pascal is a delight. – Alex Bojalad, Den of Geek

It’s a bit startling to watch [Cage’s] co-star, the ever-rising Pedro Pascal, grab the movie and walk away with it. – Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

Pascal is fine, though this screen duo is never meant to be an equal partnership. – Martin Tsai, TheWrap

Pedro Pascal and Jacob Scipio in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

(Photo by Katalin Vermes/©Lionsgate)

Do they make a perfect pair?

Cage and Pascal are truly brilliant together. – Jude Dry, IndieWire

Cage and Pascal’s chemistry is impeccable with the two actors very clearly jazzed to be in each other’s presence. – Alex Bojalad, Den of Geek

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent wouldn’t at all work without the unflinching chemistry shared by Cage and Pascal. – Robert Daniels, The Playlist

Their chemistry… makes for one of the most endearing cinematic bromances in recent memory. – Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

Pedro Pascal’s Javi works as a perfect counterbalance to Cage’s Nouveau Shamanic acting method… It’s a joy to watch them orbit around each other. – Drew Tinnin, Dread Central

[Cage’s] chemistry with Pascal as the two begin working on a screenplay together keeps the film grounded in character over plot, real emotions over artifice. – Marya E. Gates,

The real joy comes when Cage and Pascal share the screen. – Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

What about the rest of the cast?

It’s a shame the film doesn’t properly utilize its other massive talents — namely Haddish and Barinholtz. – John Fink, The Film Stage

At some point we have to stop saying “this movie wastes Tiffany Haddish” and think, maybe that’s all Tiffany Haddish has on offer. – Neal Pollack, Book & Film Globe

Is the movie funny?

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is genuinely funny… When crafting its own big comedic set pieces, it shines. – Alex Bojalad, Den of Geek

[It’s] one of the funniest movies of the year. – Jude Dry, IndieWire

From amusing to outright hilarious… Lots of belly laughs. – Ed Travis, Cinapse

There are a number of LOL moments to keep it all humming. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

(Photo by Katalin Vermes/©Lionsgate)

How is it as an action movie?

The film’s first action set-piece is undoubtedly its best… The later action sequences aren’t nearly as nail-biting or hilarious. – Martin Tsai, TheWrap

The action portion of the film really lags behind the comedy. A couple of mostly inert car chases is all that the modestly budgeted feature can muster and they mostly just serve to slow the jokes down. – Alex Bojalad, Den of Geek

The action shenanigans are probably the least interesting part of the film… The set pieces are cute, but it’s the performances that hold it together. – J. Hurtado, ScreenAnarchy

“Nicolas Cage” is being forced to live out a plot we’d expect from a Nicolas Cage movie, with car chases and heavily-armed standoffs and macho monologues. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

So we’ll enjoy the plot if we like “typical” Nicolas Cage action movies?

At some point, it cleverly pivots from being a commentary on a cheesy Nic Cage action movie to actually becoming one, with a reasonably gratifying payoff. – Neal Pollack, Book & Film Globe

In the end, actually becoming a Nicolas Cage movie… turns out to be both a cheesy thing and a special thing. – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

[The conclusion] is a bit too much like the lousy B-movies Cage has been making in recent years to live up to the uproarious joys of the first hour and change. – Jacob Hall, Slashfilm

Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

(Photo by Katalin Vermes/©Lionsgate)

Does the script stick the landing?

The third act loses some of that magic as it’s forced to bring everything to a gunfire-heavy head. – Meagan Navarro, Bloody Disgusting

Massive Talent eventually gets exhausting, bogged down by its own unbearable weight. – Martin Tsai, TheWrap

The movie-within-a-movie construct does weigh the film down. – Drew Tinnin, Dread Central

It certainly outwears its welcome at times with just too much frenetic energy. – Pete Hammond, Deadline

The film loses some of its wild-card flavor as it approaches the end… Clever, but not enough to make the forthcoming action-flick beats less generic. – John DeFore, Hollywood Reporter

It is a shame that [the] plot gets in the way. – John Fink, The Film Stage

Unfortunately, the overall experience remains fairly scattered. – Adi Robertson, The Verge

The success of the film really hinges on the writing, and this script really delivers exactly what it needs to, when it needs to do it. – J. Hurtado, ScreenAnarchy

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent premiered at South by Southwest on March 12, 2022 and opens in theaters on April 22, 2022.

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