Netflix has added the 2022 comedy The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent to their library. Nicolas Cage stars as a version of himself, whose reputation has hit an all-time low. His penchant for starring in any and every project, and his brand of acting leaving him with very few job offers. Cage is plagued – literally – by his own past successes, often talking to an imagined younger version of himself ‘Nicky’. Cage is also divorced and struggling to connect with his teenage daughter. So, with no prospects, Cage takes on a job – a personal appearance for a rich fan, Javi Gutierrez (played by Pedro Pascal known for The Last of Us, The Mandalorian, Narcos and Wonder Woman 1984) a billionaire who bonds with Cage over The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and watches Paddington 2.
Cage is then approached by the CIA, who reveal Javi is connected to an arms-dealing cartel and who want Cage to spy on his new friend. Massive Talent is an enjoyable movie, not least because of Cage’s willingness to satirise himself – either by allowing his character to dive deep in film obscurity at a moment’s notice, or through ‘Nicky’, who is every Cage overacting performance rolled into one.
Pascal, for his part, is Cage’s perfect foil – able to seem sweet and innocent and then threatening at a moment’s notice – he matches Cage’s energy throughout. The film also boasts a supporting cast of Sharon Horgan (from Game Night and Bad Sisters), Tiffany Haddish (The Afterparty, Girls Trip), Ike Barinholtz (also The Afterparty, Blockers, White House Plumbers), Alessandra Mastronardi (Master of None) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, the Harold & Kumar series and soon to appear on Doctor Who).
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is an enjoyable film – bolstered by its depiction of its star. It’s a movie well worth watching.
Stan has returned to the world of Miracle Workers – now in its fourth season. Miracle Workers has changed since its first season – an adaptation of the Simon Rich novel What in God’s Name – becoming an anthology series depicting different time periods throughout human history with an anachronistic take on society.
The second season adapted the short story Revolution, offering a unique take on medieval life. The third took on the Oregon Trail. This season moves forward in time, to a post-apocalypse and taking on the subtitle End Times. End Times takes aim at Mad Max and films in that vein, with Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan playing Sid and Freya, two ‘wastelanders’ who move into the suburbs of BoomTown and are suddenly thrust into a world of day jobs and domesticity.
Karan Soni – often this show’s funniest element – arrives as TI-90 (or Tai, as he prefers) – playing a fun-loving Terminator riff, while Steve Buscemi returns as Morris Rubinstein, a morally bankrupt junkman with a holographic wife, and Jon Bass as Sid and Freya’s pet Scraps the Dog. Guest stars this season include Quinta Brunson (from Abbott Elementary), Kyle Mooney (Saturday Night Live, Saturday Morning All Star Hits!), Paul F. Tompkins (BoJack Horseman, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story), and returning from the first two seasons, Lolly Adefope (Ghosts, Black Mirror).
Miracle Workers offers two new episodes every Wednesday.
The Bear has returned for its second season as well. The Bear comes from Christopher Storer – a writer/director whose past projects included mostly stand-up specials with comedians like Bo Burnham and Hasan Minhaj and directing episodes of shows like Dickinson.
The show, a comedy-drama, feels like Storer’s synthesis of these influences. The Bear is often quite funny, even as it offers some stark fears – substance abuse problems, mental health issues and often volatile personalities set in high-pressure situations.
The Bear focuses on Carmy Berzatto (played by Jeremy Allen White best known as Lip Gallagher from Shameless), an award-winning chef de cuisine who has returned to Chicago after his brother’s death to run the family Italian beef sandwich shop. The restaurant is ‘The Beef’, and it’s a far-cry from the high-end kitchens Carmy’s been working in.
Carmy clashes with Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach from Girls and The Punisher) who has been managing the restaurant and soon begins to start relying on new hire Sydney (Ayo Edebiri, Dickinson, Abbott Elementary, History of the World, Part II).
The series also features appearances by Oliver Platt, Abby Elliott, Robert Townsend, Alex Moffat, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jon Bernthal, Joel McHale, Molly Ringwald, Bob Odenkirk, John Mulaney, Olivia Colman and Mitra Jouhari.
With things changing in season two, with the restaurant changing from ‘The Beef’ to ‘The Bear’ and a further focus on the Berzatto family and their issues – The Bear is an engaging series, able to offer a dark portrait of troubled individuals and also find levity amongst that darkness.