Nicolas Cage plays Nick Cage in "The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent." Photo courtesy of Lionsgate
LOS ANGELES, April 18 (UPI) -- The true Nicolas Cage fans never wavered, even when the actor turned to made-for-video movies in which he still was compelling. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, in theaters Friday, celebrates everything Cage fans love about him and may just be the comeback he deserves.
Nick Cage (Cage) is desperate for a new role and has debts to pay, a simplified version of the real-life struggles Cage has faced. When Javi (Pedro Pascal) offers Cage $1 million to attend his birthday party in Mallorca, Spain, Nick grudgingly accepts.
But CIA agents Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) and Martin (Ike Barinholtz) see Nick arrive and enlist him to help. The CIA believes Javi has kidnapped the daughter of the president of Catalan.
Cage is game to send himself up. The movie and his performance walk the line of never making fun of Cage or his audience, but going as far as one can with the premise. That's the Nicolas Cage way.
This is a version of Nick who only has one daughter (Lily Mo Sheen) instead of two sons and a newborn. Nick's ex-wife in the film is a makeup artist, Olivia (Sharon Horgan), not celebrity exes like Patricia Arquette and Lisa Marie Presley.
Unbearable Weight keeps its inside-Hollywood satire aligned with a populist leaning. It's even more accessible than Entourage, because Unbearable Weight references mainstream movies that people have seen, such as Con Air, The Rock, National Treasure and to a lesser extent, Guarding Tess.
This Nick sees a vision of an alter ego, Nicky, with whom he speaks. Thanks to de-aging visual effects, Nicky looks like Wild at Heart era Cage and acts accordingly.
The film uses Nicky sparingly, only in three scenes. Thus, it ensures Nicky remains the best joke, since the writers don't beat it to death.
The visual effect still looks glassy, but it's convincing enough. Cage is having so much fun with Nicky that it's worth any technical shortcomings.
Javi represents the ultimate Cage fan. To him, Cage has done no wrong, not even Captain Corelli's Mandolin.
The action doesn't quite measure up to Jerry Bruckheimer level, but it's fine for a Lionsgate comedy. Cage throws himself into the slapstick and is willing to look silly.
The film feels sincere about Nick reconciling with his estranged family. Whether that's inspired by his real feelings or just good character work, the viewer roots for Nick to learn to be more present.
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a love letter to Cage and his fans. If you appreciate Cage's work, Unbearable Weight creates a one-of-a-kind vehicle to explore his massive talent.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.