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Review: 'The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent' references Nick Cage's multitudes

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Nicolas Cage is not just the star of his latest movie, he's also its main character. In the comedy "The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent," Nicolas Cage plays an actor named Nicolas Cage. Critic Bob Mondello says he's certainly well cast.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: We meet a Nick Cage who's very much like the Nick Cage we know, but struggling a bit, even when he auditions.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

NICOLAS CAGE: (As Nick Cage) What did he say?

NEIL PATRICK HARRIS: (As Richard Fink) He says he loves you, but he went in a different direction.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) I'm done. I'm quitting acting.

HARRIS: (As Richard Fink) I'm driving through the hills. I'm sorry. One more time?

MONDELLO: Bills are piling up, alimony after a recent divorce. Then finally, his agent mentions an offer from a fan that would involve some acting.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) What's it about?

HARRIS: (As Richard Fink) You head to southern Spain, and you attend a wealthy gentleman's birthday party.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) I would never do that.

HARRIS: (As Richard Fink) It's a million bucks, Nick.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) I'll take it.

MONDELLO: The fan's name is Javi, a hero-worshipping superfan - as played by Pedro Pascal - with a screenplay he's hoping Nick will read and plans for a whole weekend of bonding, maybe even acting out a scene or two. As much as Cage tries to preserve boundaries once he gets to southern Spain, even saying he's giving up acting, Javi is like an eager puppy.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

PEDRO PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) You can't quit acting. You can't.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) That's none of your business.

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) Whether you like it or not, you have a gift.

MONDELLO: The way to a star's heart is through his ego, and Cage's has needed stroking. What's a star to do? Disappoint his biggest fan?

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) We have to go now. We have to jump.

MONDELLO: They're standing in a clearing overlooking water as Nick Cage looks Javi in the eye and becomes Nicolas Cage.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) You're in an untenable situation. You know that, right?

MONDELLO: Javi's eyes light up.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) And let's get you out of here alive.

MONDELLO: With Javi close behind, he runs towards the water, and he drops a lot higher than he expected.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

PEDRO PASCAL AND NICOLAS CAGE: (As Javi Gutierrez and Nick Cage, screaming)

MONDELLO: It is sometimes said that actors contain multitudes - all the parts they've ever played, are playing, will play. This is truer of some actors than others, but this movie references a lot of the multitudes Nicolas Cage contains. Like the Nick Cage from "Leaving Las Vegas," there's a bottom of a swimming pool bit; "Guarding Tess" - a heartwarming story; "National Treasure" - a race to safety. And when a couple of CIA agents who've been tailing Javi spot Cage, they run through a half dozen more.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

TIFFANY HADDISH: (As Vivian) He was so good in "The Rock."

IKE BARINHOLTZ: (As Martin) What about "Gone In 60 Seconds"?

HADDISH: (As Vivian) Have you seen "Croods 2"?

BARINHOLTZ: (As Martin) No. I'm 44 years old. Why would I see "Croods 2"? I've seen "Face/Off" and "Con Air."

MONDELLO: This doesn't remotely rise to the level of homage, but it'll be fun for fans. Director Tom Gormican and his co-screenwriter Kevin Etten mostly settle for quick nods in the general direction of Cage's previous films. Their story is so busy chasing its own tail that trying to do more than namecheck epics like "Army Of One" and "Ghost Rider" would likely be the kiss of death. That said, it takes "Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent" a good hour and some dropped acid before it builds up a comic head of steam, the LSD fueling a paranoid escape over a wall...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) Grab my hand. Grab it.

MONDELLO: ...When nobody is actually chasing them. Theirs is a bromance marked by total commitment...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) So you let go. You let go.

MONDELLO: ...Just 24 hours after they've met; star and fan united in devotion to Nick Cage and the Hollywood-ness of it all.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) Goodbye, Nicolas Cage.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) I'll never forget you, Javs (ph).

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) Now, you get the hell out of here. You go. Turns out we could have just walked around.

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) Yeah, I guess so.

PASCAL: (As Javi Gutierrez) Whatever.

MONDELLO: There's not a lot in "The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent" for those hoping for something as meta as that title. Where "Being John Malkovich" used its real-life star not just for laughs but for a weirdly profound examination of consciousness, no one associated with this film is interested in examining much of anything. They mean their movie to be just a goof.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) I'm Nick freaking...

MONDELLO: Its memory gone in 60 seconds once the lights come up.

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE UNBEARABLE WEIGHT OF MASSIVE TALENT")

CAGE: (As Nick Cage) ...Woo - Cage.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOBY SONG, "FLOWER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.