I know you were expecting a trip to Hogwarts with Fantastic Beasts but we had a change of plans this week. I had heard about an “indie” film starring Nicolas Cage AS Nicolas Cage! That premise itself sounds incredibly interesting and a breath of fresh air.
If you are a Nicolas Cage fan then even more so. It’s no secret the last 10 years or so Nic Cage has made some pretty terrible films. Direct to DVD and ones that are laughably bad. No one can say he doesn’t give 150% though. So would the zany version of himself come out as a fictionalized version of the actor? The premise is simple. He gets offered 1 million dollars to go to a birthday party of a billionaire and super fan played by Pedro Pascal (You’ll know him from THE MANDALORIAN.) Unfortunately no Baby Yoda in this film. I surprisingly hadn’t seen any trailers so I was going on blind.
Onto the film.
We open meeting Nicolas Cage at a lunch with either a Hollywood producer or director pitching a new role for him. Nic Cage would be BACK if he gets it. He goes off the rails to impress the gentlemen and obviously doesn’t get it. We then learn about his family problems. His wife has left him and his daughter is estranged. Nic Cage is all about Nic Cage. It gets even worse…he’s broke. His agent Richard Fink (the great Neil Patrick Harris) lets him know he owes a hotel he has been staying at $600,000. He tells Nic of the job to go to a birthday party and he is scoffed at. We then see Nic not able to get into his hotel room, not getting the job from the lunch meeting, family not speaking to him….He agrees to take it.
This is where the film takes off.
Nic Cage lands and meets Javi (Pascal) and their relationship is strained from the beginning. Cage wants to phone it in and collect his money. Javi (Pascal) plays against typecast of the hero in The Mandalorian. He is timid and gets embarrassed easy at his fandom. He was a nice change of pace. As a few days past but Cage and Javi (Pascal) begin to bond over their love of movies. Paddington 2 especially! That’s a children’s film for the record. It had me genuinely laughing out loud. The plot thickens however….Cage is apprehended by CIA agents Vivian (Haddish) and Martin (Barinholtz.) They are convinced Javi (Pascal) is actually an evil kingpin and has a rival’s daughter kidnapped. Nicolas Cage must now become the hero he plays in movies…
This movie was much better than I expected. The chemistry between Cage and Pedro Pascal is wonderful. You will leave wanting them to star in more films together, or at least film the fake film Pascal’s character has written. I was surprised at how likeable they both were together.
The plot is a little thin. Go to a birthday party. Check. Turn into an amateur spy. Check. But not a lot happens. The scenes just turn into back and forth banter which works, but would be better with more substance to what is happening (aside from the final act.) My favorite aspect of this film would be the references to past Cage films…he says “Put the bunny down” from Con Air….various props are seen from old films. Mentions “the bees…not the bees.”
If you’re a fan of his previous work good or bad this will make you smile. It also made me want to watch more Cage films immediately after. My ONE complaint is the two CIA agents. I get their purpose for the film but wish they had been fleshed out more. Both are solid actors that could have done more with what they were given.
The importance of their roles in this is so watered down it may as well been a phone call or letter to Cage telling him what they wanted. This doesn’t change a VERY good film. IF you’re a Cage fan, or in the mood for something against the grain go see this film. It is somewhat of a limited release but you shouldn’t have that hard of a time finding a showing. 4 and a half stars out of 5…….PUT THE BUNNY DOWN!!!!