Cage actually plays a character named Nick Cage, but the clips from his movies judiciously sprinkled throughout dispense with any doubts about who this is supposed to be, even if he’s playing (hopefully) an exaggerated version of himself.
Directed and co-written by Tom Gormican (who has one other feature to his credit), the film requires Cage to be an extremely good sport, introducing him as a nearly washed-up star missing what he keeps describing as the possible role of a lifetime. His ex-wife (Sharon Horgan) and teenage daughter (Lily Sheen) both do a lot of eye-rolling around him, speaking to past slights thanks to his actorly self-absorption.
Cage thus gets a chance to live out the espionage-type roles he’s played for real, a scenario he approaches with method zeal and no small amount of terror. The undercover work is further complicated by the fact that he bonds with Javi, sharing not only a love for movies (and not incidentally, him) but similar tastes that Javi brings to his dream of working with Cage, triggering amusing debates about whether there’s still room to develop a true character-driven drama.
As for Cage, his full-throated performance (literally, given the amount of screaming that he does) hilariously embraces an image of celebrity narcissism, best exemplified by his stunned-into-silence reaction when he sees Javi’s life-sized replica of him, right before he offers to buy it.
Like its title, “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” becomes a little too much of a good thing down the stretch, but by then, it has amassed enough goodwill to close the deal. And while there might be limited theatrical appetite these days for the character-driven movie that Nick and Javi yearn to make, there ought to be some room for this.
“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” premieres April 22 in US theaters. It’s rated R.