Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Anemic and Apathetic Acting of Nicholas Cage

Could someone please tell Nicholas Cage to wake up? Or at least express some kind of emotion other than boredom. Lately, it seems like he’s walking through his films with an indifference one might interpret as condescension—as if he believes his talent is far better than the material he’s appearing in. (Which frankly doesn’t say much about either.)

I recently saw two of Mr. Cage’s more recent movies “The Wicker Man” and “Next,” and couldn’t believe how similar the characters were. Not only that, but they also both shared the same bad hairstyle, which looked like a cross between Bozo the clown and Gene Wilder from “Young Frankenstein.” (Or even Frankenstein himself.) I’m pretty sure Mr. Cage is losing his hair, or has already lost it and is now attempting to cover it up with some kind of rat’s nest. But no matter how follicly challenged he might be, the Albert Einstein inspired hairpiece is not a flattering alternative. Better to be bald than run around looking like the male Amy Winehouse.

In both films, Mr. Cage plays the typical Nice-Guy-Next-Door with a quiet determination to be the dullest Sad Sack you ever witnessed on screen. His non-committal acting style comes across as arrogant and self-indulgent, as if he doesn’t even have enough energy or desire to say his lines or show any emotion other than apathy. His facial expression appears to be permanently frozen in a sour semi-frown, perhaps indicating his distaste for the crappy material he must constantly appear in to maintain his A-List status. What happened to the happier days of “Birdy” or “Moonstruck” or even “Leaving Las Vegas”? Those were inspired Nicholas Cage movies, before he began taking himself too seriously and literally “checking out” from his films.

Because other than trying to turn a quick profit with a mediocre product, there is simply no other explanation why a piece of crap like “The Wicker Man” ever got past the editing room floor. It is not only boring and contrived, but the “shocking” ending is more of a relief than a tragedy. At least we didn’t have to watch Mr. Cage try to “act” anymore. (That is, if you can actually call what he was doing “acting.” Because to me it didn’t look like he even showed up for work. His body was certainly there, but I’m not sure where the rest of him was.) If you haven’t seen the film, don’t bother. It’s pointless. He dies. And guess what? You won’t even care.

Which brings me to the other Nicholas Cage vehicle, “Next,” where Mr. Cage once again plays a mopey Nice-Guy-Next-Door, who also happens to have a special power--he can see two minutes into the future, so he knows everything that’s going to happen right before it does. And you know what? So does the audience. Except we know what’s going to happen twenty minutes before. Or perhaps an hour. So maybe the audience has special powers too, and it’s really Mr. Cage who needs to catch up.

And don’t even get me started on Julianne Moore’s ridiculous interpretation of an FBI Officer in the film. (Or whatever she was.) Her scowl-ridden performance is not only a complete contradiction to her wrinkle-free image as a spokesperson for Revlon, but it’s also incredibly similar to other roles she’s played in the past. Only this time, she’s blended them all together into a Stepford version of herself, showing even less emotion than Mr. Cage (if such a thing is possible).

In conclusion, I hope if Mr. Cage continues with his acting career, he picks projects that he’s actually excited about doing, so that we’ll finally see some of that energy on screen. Because right now, I feel like I’m watching the video game version of his character, rather than the actual three dimensional person.

But that’s just me. What do you think of Nicholas Cage’s recent acting endeavors? (Or even his hair?)


.45 said...

I watched Next on cable the other night, and what was most striking to me is how sickly Cage is looking. In that Ghostrider movie too. I don't know if it's just his age coming up on him fast or what, but he's not looking well.

Henson Ray said...

Good point. Maybe that's why he has no energy. Or any body fat. Or any personality.

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