I’ve been a closeted Nicolas Cage fan ever since I saw Con Air when I was in middle school. The Rock, Face/Off — I didn’t care if they were absurd, they were fucking fun and so was he. The man has had a storied career. He’s capable of genuine dramatic pathos (Leaving Las Vegas, World Trade Center) to black comedy (Adaptation, Raising Arizona, Kick-Ass) to the guys he played in National Treasure and City of Angels and Mandy. He was Ghost Rider. He was the voice of Spider-Noir in Into the Spider-verse, the lead ant in The Ant Bully, the dad from The Croods. He’s gone through a strange twenty year period since his peak in the 90s but these days it’s so nice to see the internet embrace him, all the tongue-baths given by doting Redditors when he says he likes tree bark.
This another fun Nicolas Cage movie. It doesn’t quite live up to the expectations. It’s not a homerun. It’s not a masterpiece of parody that will be talked about for generations. It gets occasionally bogged down in its own humor, and occasionally the tone is hard to follow. That said, it is eminently watchable. There are several genuinely hilarious scenes — one involves poison administered by touch, another involves two characters trying to get over a wall. I saw it with my mom. She loved it, especially the wall scene. I haven’t heard her laugh at a movie like that in a long time.
Cage plays a tragically narcissistic version of himself; a rip-rollicking, drunken, bombastic self-parody drowning in his own self-pity. No one has more fun on this project than him, and it’s fun watching him have fun and stretch out the word “fuckiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnn”. Pedro Pascal has almost as much fun as Cage. I‘d never heard of Sharon Horgan, and I’ve seen Game Night. Lily Sheen is cinematic wallpaper as Cage’s daughter. In her defense, she’s not really given much to do. I frankly wish Cage’s (fake) family hadn’t been in this at all. Tiffany Haddish does all right. Ike “I’m friends with the producer” Barinholtz is the same guy he always plays — that annoying friend of a friend who’s always at the party despite no one you know actually liking him. He’s in it for the first half and then disappears. I didn’t pick up that he and Haddish’s characters were husband and wife until just now when I looked at the wikipedia article.
The movie suffers from the James Gunn “saying fuck a lot is funny” syndrome. There’s an undercurrent of middle school immaturity, dumb boys having fun, but between watching Cage and the competent plot, the movie surprises and entertains enough to earn its stripes. That said, over the next few years I’m hoping we get more of the Nicolas Cage we had in Pig and less of the Nicolas Cage we get here.