In “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” Nicolas Cage tackles one of his most out-there roles yet: a capital-A Actor named Nicolas Cage, who’s adored by fans all over the world for the intensity and eccentricity he brings to his work. Here’s a man who once pulled two of his teeth for a part (“Birdy”), but had the good sense to stop short of actually chopping off his hand to play Cher’s hot-blooded brother-in-law in “Moonstruck.” This was before he had all his teeth redone, replacing the devilishly crooked smile that was his signature for the gleaming white grin and flaming wig of “Ghost Rider.”
Somewhere in the metaverse, a parallel reality exists where Cage’s big comic-book movie would have been the lead role in Tim Burton’s “Superman Lives.” That’s a disaster averted, according to screenwriter Kevin Smith. In any case, Cage had already become an international megastar by appearing in back-to-back Jerry Bruckheimer movies (“The Rock” and “Con Air,” later followed by a high-adrenaline remake of “Gone in 60 Seconds”), which in turn made him bankable enough to attract at least two decades’ worth of unbelievably bad paycheck projects. During this time, it’s not clear what, if anything, would have led Cage to turn down a part. And yet, no matter how lousy the result (from “Season of the Witch” to “Dog Eat Dog,” the disappointments far outnumber the keepers), there’s no denying that Cage gives it 110%.
In the history of Hollywood, has there ever been a more dedicated over-actor? Whether it’s ripping his shirt off on “Wogan” or eating a live cockroach on command, Cage comes across like the id unleashed, keeping his fans on their toes while remaining true to his craft. Unlike Marlon Brando, a fellow ex-Method actor who started phoning in his performances after a certain point, Cage has never let his commitment flag. With “Massive Talent,” we now know the star is in on the joke. Let’s see where it ranks in the pantheon of wild-and-crazy Nicolas Cage performances.