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The 3 Nic Cage Movies You Should Watch Before Seeing Nic Cage's The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent, According To The Director

Nicolas Cage in The Rock
(Image credit: Disney/Touchstone)

It is being described as “the role Nicolas Cage was born to play.” Because, though exaggerated for comedic effect, Nic Cage plays the famous A-list actor Nic Cage in the upcoming comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a meta trip through the filmography of the Face/Off star that recently had its world premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. In the movie, Cage (playing himself) is hired by an eccentric fan (Pedro Pascal) and paid $1 million to fly to a private birthday party in Mallorca and… well, be Nic Cage. It’s every bit as trippy and self-referential as you might imagine. 

Following the world premiere of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, we sat down with the film’s director and writer, Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, to discuss all things Nicolas Cage. These guys, after all, seem to understand Cage as much as – if not more than – the actor himself. Maybe not as much as the superfan who stalked Cage in Austin. That's a different story. But for fun, I asked the guys what Nic Cage movies they want audiences to catch up on before heading into Unbearable Weight, and Gormican told me: 

Like, if you didn't have time to watch 118 (movies)? (Laughs) Just to be clear, if you didn't have the time to watch them all. For me, I think Adaptation, Raising Arizona and Face/Off. And I think that they are different versions of Nic Cage, but it shows a wide range of his ability.

The beautiful thing about Nicolas Cage’s filmography is that the actor is anything but typecast. Sure, he may enjoy a run in a string of action movies like Con Air, The Rock and National Treasure, but those are so different from the films of his earliest stages, and he’s also keen on flexing his muscles as a character actor nowadays in films that get him awards buzz (like the drama Pig). And he has no plans to ever retire. To that end, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent co-writer Kevin Etten added his three Nic Picks, and they are:

One of my favorites is Moonstruck. That’s my early one. Then, the middle one would be The Rock, because it’s a movie I can't turn off if it's on. And then I would go into a later (choice), like maybe Pig, for somebody to go, ‘Okay, this is what he's capable of.’

So now you have your homework. Even if you have seen one of those six suggested films, pop it back on before heading out to see Unbearable Weight. They’ll refresh your memory so you will get a number of the inside jokes that Kevin Etten and Tom Gormican worked into their screenplay. Because as they told me, talking to Nic Cage about Nic Cage movies was a challenge, even though Cage is very self-aware of his status as Hollywood royalty. When I asked Gormican how comfortable Cage is talking about himself and his classic films, the director explained:

You’ve got to coax it out of him a little bit. He enjoys talking about the filmmakers, and what it was like working for them in the process of making (a movie). He's such a huge movie fan. And so it's more about the actual process, and what it took to get it done, and how much he liked the end result. He’s very happy to talk about John Woo or David Lynch or any of the directors he has worked with.

That love of film shines through in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, a buddy comedy characterized by the measurable chemistry shared by Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal that also takes audiences deep into the inner circle of the unique persona that is Nic Cage. It’s a wild, wild ride that you can begin taking when Lionsgate opens the movie on April 22. It’s one of many upcoming 2022 movie releases that need to be on your radar as the year rolls along. 

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.