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(Check out Melanie Addington’s movie review of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in theaters April 22. Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

The only thing more meta about the film The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent was watching it with Nicolas Cage reacting to his performance to my left on the same row at the world premiere at South by Southwest. A film directed and written by Tom Gormican (Ghosted), his feature directorial debut might be up there with one of the fun bonkers feature debuts such as the DanielsSwiss Army Man or Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich. Maybe it is not quite as groundbreaking, but a real treat for Cage fans to go down in history.

From a lousy audition to a meeting with his agent (played by Neil Patrick Harris), Cage relies on his former self for pep talks and smooches (Nicky inspired by young Wild at Heart Cage). Still, he finally has enough of a struggle in Hollywood and with debts that he agrees to go to a rich guy’s birthday party (Pedro Pascal as Javi) for $1 million. He is not aware of a script Javi wrote for him or that there is much more to the story than he is told. Cage is a version of himself that parallels some parts tabloid stories, some parts stereotypical actor, and part divorced family man, which nods closest to his real-life ex Patricia Arquette (in reality, he has been married five times). Sharon Horgan plays the long-suffering ex-wife and mother to their teenage daughter.

Javi is widely known as the head of a crime family, and the CIA intercepts when they see Cage lands on the island in his plane. The CIA agents are played by Tiffany Hadish and Ike Barinholtz, who approach Cage to help with a kidnapping tied to Javi. Having to embrace an inner duality and meta quality to real-life danger and a growing friendship with Javi, Cage agrees to build a story with his friend while doubling as a spy.

But as we go down the road of the story, we begin tangling between a meta version of Cage, as Nicky appears, film moments from his 40+ year career also interweave the story while Javi and Nick also build a storyline for a new script that follows closely within the subplot of the film. It’s heady in parts and silly in others, and the Austin audience ate it up. If a movie was ever written for a specific audience, it is this one with indie film jokes (Duplass Brothers may pop up), the nature of filmmaking, the life of an actor, easter egg references of his films, and a shared bromance and love for Paddington 2 and celebration of the cinematic genius of Mandy.

But of everything about the film, the chemistry between Cage and Pascal makes a perfect bromance and my favorite. I need their Broadway version of The Odd Couple immediately. If you feel confused, it’s ok; it’s one of those you’ll want to watch multiple times. The meta nature of the film allows someone to take something away from it.

A lot of the headier filmmaking jokes did not land quite as well with AMC audiences on the preview last week, but the slapstick comedy and bromance dynamic worked just as well. This isn’t a film that takes it seriously, nor is the lead actor who it is all about, so it makes for a fun theatrical experience.

The film is 93 minutes and will be released by Lionsgate on April 22 in theaters. Grab your favorite Nic Cage fan, get some popcorn, and enjoy the ride.

– Melanie Addington (@MelAddington)

2022 SXSW Film Festival; Tom Gormican; The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent movie review
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Melanie Addington is the Executive Director of Tallgrass Film Association as of 2021. She has worked in the film festival world since 2006, first as a volunteer, and then eventually becoming the Oxford Film Festival Executive Director in August 2015. She used to be a reporter for the Oxford Eagle (a community newspaper) and then Pizza Magazine Quarterly (a global trade magazine). She still loves pizza. And she still writes for Hammer to Nail and Film Festival Today about her other great love: movies. She is from Southern California originally but lived in the South for 20 years. She now resides in Wichita, KS, and has one son.

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