The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent ★★★

A fun ride but also part of a cresting wave of what you might call “cinema of self validation,” in which the main narrative point seems to be to congratulate the audience on being such good consumers of all this content that’s being pumped out into the universe. 

These films are all about echoing back to the audience the stuff we know already, and they are measured in the frequency of chuckles and hoots of approval from the audience when we recognize something pulled out from our media memory trunks, when our past purchases are flashed in front of us and the value of those transactions are reasserted. They wink and nudge at us and say, “Hey, we’ve all seen this stuff before and here it is again but in a slightly different context. Isn’t that hilarious? And aren’t we all great for being in on this joke?” 

I’m as susceptible to this hook as anyone, at least the first hundred times, but it is dismaying to see how this is increasingly becoming the dominant strain of Hollywood filmmaking, as evidenced in everything from numbskull campaigns of attrition like the MCU to supposedly indie-minded passion projects like “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” 

In the case of “Unbearable Weight,” yes, we are all in on the joke of Nicolas Cage being some kind of a maniac, and that’s entertaining, for sure, at least for a while, but it doesn’t make for a particularly resonant, or even a notably hilarious, time at the movies. It’s just, well, amusing and little more, especially when the whole affair feels like it was dashed off while the cast and crew enjoyed a holiday in Majorca. Despite all of the validation of our consumption, what it isn’t is a film that is particularly memorable. At least not until somebody else makes an even more meta film project that is itself a callback to “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.” That’s gonna be a riot.

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