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The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

Year: 2022
Production Co: Burr! Productions
Director: Tom Gormican
Writer: Tom Gormican/Kevin Etten
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Pedro Pascal, Tiffany Haddish, Ike Barinholtz, Neil Patrick Harris, Demi Moore

One of the most dangerous things you can try in comedy is stretch a single joke to the running time of a feature film. Believe in it too much and the gags collapse under the weight of self importance. Try to skip it along the surface of the tale so it doesn't get bogged down in plot and character and you won't engage anybody.

While there's nothing extraordinary about the direction, the script by director Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten at least spins up a story with more in it than the joke alone. The narrative comes first and the gag premise fits in with it rather than the other way around, so although the whole thing isn't side splitting every minute, it works.

It's also very clever the way it trades upon the mythology everybody now believes and loves about Nic Cage, from how over the top he is to motifs about him always being broke and having to agree to any job that comes along.

When we meet Nic he's taking his frustration about his career out on those around him, getting drunk and belligerent at his teenage daughter's birthday party and embarrassing himself, giving his long suffering ex more stress and ending up locked out his hotel room for non payment of his bill, slumping down the doorway and sleeping in the corridor.

He's had it, convinced he's going to quit acting, but his slick agent (Neil Patrick Harris) has one more offer. For a million dollars all he has to do is go to Majorca and attend the birthday party of a rich Hispanic playboy and Nic Cage superfan, Javi (Pedro Pascal, riding incredibly high at the moment because of The Mandalorian and The Last of Us).

It takes awhile for Nic to warm up to Javi's puppy-dog loyalty and devotion to him, but eventually he's won over not just by his new friend but the plan Javi has to launch his own career and restart Nic's – he has a script he wants Nic to read that he thinks he'd be perfect for.

But as Nic feels the old fire spark in him again, he and Javi driving around town and holed up in the latter's clifftop mansion talking about movies and crafting their script, he's approached by two CIA agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz) in secret.

Javi has made his fortune as an arms dealer, and they suspect he has the daughter of a prominent politician hostage, a kidnapping he hopes to use to pressure the politician into dropping out of a forthcoming election that won't go down in his favour. As the only man close to Javi, they want Nic to inform on his friend and help them figure out when to strike.

Wondering if Javi is actually a kidnapper and killer, and with his family eventually dragged into the melee of intrigue, Nic doesn't know which way to turn, finding himself in an action romp and having to draw on his experience as a movie star, his imaginary friend/alter ego Little Nicky (played by what appears to be a de-aged Cage) taunting him at every step about what a failure he is and trying to get him to man up.

Cage and Pascal are great fun to watch together, two adorable dolts with no idea how deep over their heads they are and with their newfound friendship blinding them to everything going on around them. Everything else is serviceable action adventure, but the script weaves just enough of the meta-existence of the Cage myth into the story (and knows where and how much to do so) to make it plenty of fun to watch.

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