Nicholas Cage plays “Nick Cage”, a once-honored actor who now has a reputation for appearing in any direct-to-video piece of junk he’s offered in order to pay his bills. When an obscenely rich Mexican superfan (Pedro Pascal, showing great talent for nuanced comedy as well as wonderful chemistry with Cage) asks him to appear at his lavish birthday party (for a million bucks), he senses an opportunity to restore his lost glory and self-respect.
But then it dawns on Nick that only vicious arms smugglers or the occasional cartel boss can be this rich, and this suspicion is underlined when a pair of FBI agents (Tiffany Haddish and Ike Barinholtz), show up and task him with spying on the guy.
Not just any actor could play this role. Few have Cage’s (1) acting range, (2) insanely diverse filmography, (3) appetite for self-parody, or (4) the balls. In some scenes he appears opposite himself in a previous, CGI de-aged cinematic persona. Note: The line, “He’s back! (Not that he’s been anywhere.)” is a running gag.
This cheerfully demented Hollywood meta-comedy rises above gimmickry and astoundingly stays fresh and unique (and even sweet) and never takes itself too seriously. Though it’s clearly a gift to Cage fans, if you’re not one of those, you may be by the time the credits roll. (117 min)